The economic crash in 1997 and the 2004 Tsunami left millions of Indonesians living below the poverty line and created conditions for exploitation, trafficking and abuse for many people and a high proportion of women and children. Legal, social and geographical obstacles caused by the fact that the country is spread over thousands of islands also mean that services don’t always reach those in need.
Many children live in unsanitary conditions; some find themselves working on the streets, in households as hired help or in the fields. Children in conflict with the law, especially those from poor families, struggle to access good legal representation.
Yayasan Pusat Kajian dan Perlindungan Anak Medan (PKPA) was set up in 1996 in response to the pressing need to address children’s rights. The organisation began by lobbying authorities to implement the goals of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Indonesia ratified in 1990.
PKPA works directly with children, their family and the community as well as local and central government authorities, schools and clubs to advocate for child issues and inform the public about children’s rights. PKPA is headquartered in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, but the organisation also responds to emergencies in other parts of Indonesia.
In Medan, PKPA has set up the Child Creativity Centre, offering educational assistance to working children and at-risk children, as well as life skills and entrepreneurship training for teenagers. Every year, PKPA handles more than 80 cases of child abuse and exploitation. Since 2010 it has succeeded in preventing over 400 children from dropping out of school in North Sumatra and Aceh. Through its advocacy programmes, PKPA has reached 31,398 beneficiaries and has pushed the government at the national and local level to make regulations related to child protection.
Photos: Fauzan Ijazah/Stars Foundation