Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Challenging Disregard: Advocacy Journalism and the Campaign for Domestic Worker Legislation in Indonesia

Mary Austin


This article examines a recent ILO funded project designed to engage more Indonesian journalists and media organizations in advocacy journalism on behalf of domestic worker legislation. Applying Ann Stoler’s notion of ‘disregard’ in the context of post-Suharto
democratization, I illustrate how established newsroom practices and patterns of reporting helped maintain distinctions between ‘home’ and overseas domestic workers which impeded progress towards comprehensive legislation. Indonesia’s endorsement of the adoption of ILO Convention 189 in June 2011 opened up political opportunities, provided a framework for re-scripting media narratives and encouraged journalists to give more space to domestic workers’ voices. At the same time, increased media coverage enabled those opposed to legislation to reiterate a gendered disregard for the social and economic value of domestic work.


advocacy journalism, domestic workers; Indonesia; disregard; victim narratives.

Full Text:



Affan, H 2017, “Household Domestic Workers Bill Has Not Been

Discussed, Domestic Workers Are ‘Vulnerable to Discrimination’”,

BBC Indonesia, 16 Juni, diakses 25 Juli 2017,


AJI Jakarta 2015, “Beasiswa Peliputan: Urgensi Perlindungan

Hukum Bagi Pekerja Rumah Tangga”, Aliansi Jurnalis Independen

(AJI) Jakarta, 1 Juni, diakses 27 Juli 2017, http://www.ajijakarta.



Ally, S 2011, “Domestics, ‘Dirty Work’ and the Affects of Domination”,

South African Review of Sociology, vol. 42, no.2, hh. 1–7.

Anya, A 2016, “Do People Still Need RT/ RW Heads?”, Jakarta Post,


Austin, M 2016, “Defending Indonesia’s Migrant Domestic Workers”,

in L Bakker, W Berenschot & HS Nordholt (eds.), Citizenship and

Democratization in Southeast Asia, Brill, Leiden, hh. 265-288.

Blackburn, S 2004 Women and the State in Modern Indonesia,

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

“Book Launching and Monologues: ‘Inspiring Life Stories of

Indonesian Domestic Workers’” 2017, Seminar,



Bowen 1986, “On the Political Construction of Tradition: Gotong

Royong in Indonesia”, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 3, hh.


Byerly, C 2016, “Stasis and Shifts in Feminist Media Scholarship”, in

C Cerqueira, R Cabecinhas, and S Magalhaes (eds.), Gender in Focus:

(New) Trends in Media, CECS, Braga, hh. 15–27.

Chan, C 2014, “Gendered Morality and Development Narratives: The

Case of Female Labour Migration from Indonesia”, Sustainability, no.

, hh. 6949–6972.

Da Costa, AB 2015, “Without Contracts Domestic Worker Rights

Unprotected”, ILO: International Labour Organization, 28 Augustus,

diakses 16 Juni 2017,


Fechter, AM 2007, Transnational Lives: Expatriates in Indonesia,

Hants: Ashgate, Aldershot.

Gouda, F, Raben R, Nordholt, HS & Stoler, AL 2009, “Ann Laura

Stoler, Along the Archival Grain; Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial

Common Sense”, Bijdragen Tot de Taal-, Land-En Volkenkunde/

Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia, vol.

, no. 4, hh. 551–567.

Gutíerrez Rodŕiguez, E 2009, Migration, Domestic Work and Affect,

Routledge, London and New York.

Ikhbal, AM 2015, “Belum Ada Usaha Maksimal Lindungi PRT(Bagian

Habis)”, Republika, 21 Augustus.

Ikhbal, AM 2017, “Workers Who Are Still Considered as Housemaids”,

Republika, 19 Agustus.

ILO Jakarta 2010, ILO Jakarta: Recognising Domestic Work as

Work, ILO Jakarta, Jakarta,



ILO Jakarta 2016, “ILO-AJI Jakarta to Launch Media Award for the

Best Reportages on the Protections of Domestic Workers”, ILO

Jakarta, 14 Augustus, diakses 26 Juli 2017,


Irham, M & Andapita, V 2015a, “When Domestic Workers United in

Trade Union (Part 2)”, Varia News, 15 August,


Irham, M & Andapita, V 2015b, “When Domestic Workers United in

Trade Union”, Varia News, 15 Augustus,


Irham, M & Andapita, V 2015c, “Steep Road of Draft Law on

Protection of Domestic Workers”, Varia News, 15 Augustus, http://


“Si Mbak Mudik Asyik Agar Balik Lagi (2)” 2008,,

September, diakses 24 Juli 2017,


“Lack of OSH Protection for Domestic Workers (2)” 2015, KBR Saga,


Munt, SR 2016, “Argumentum Ad Misericordiam: The Cultural

Politics of Victim Media”, Feminist Media Studies, hal. 1–18, doi:10.10


Nababan, A 2003, “Maria Hartiningsih: Indonesia”, UDHR-Heroes,

Nilan, P, Demartoto, A, Broom, A & Germov, J 2014, “Indonesian

Men’s Perceptions of Violence Against Women”, Violence Against

Women, vol. 20, no. 7, hal 869–888.

Niner, S, Cuthbert, D & Ahmad Y 2014, “Good Mothers, Bad Mothers”,

Feminist Media Studies, vol. 14, no. 6, hal. 993–1011, doi:10.1080/146


Nurbaiti, A 2000, “Labor Migration and Media Coverage in

Indonesia”, paper dipresentasikan pada Regional Consultation on

Media and Labor Migration, 21-23 Augustus, Manila, diakses 22 Juni


Pinho, PdS 2015, “The Dirty Body That Cleans: Representations of

Domestic Workers in Brazilian Common Sense”, Meridians: Feminism,

Race, Transnationalism, vol. 13, no. 1, hal. 103–128.

Poo, A 2011, Organizing with Love: Lessons from the New York

Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Campaign, Centre for the Education

of Women, University of Michigan, accessed 20 Juni 2017, http://


Robinson, K 1991, “Housemaids: The Effect of Gender and Culture

on the Internal and International Migration of Indonesian Women”,

in G Bottomley, M de Lepervanche & J Martin (eds.), Intersexions:

Gender/Class/Culture/Ethnicity, Allen & Unwin, Sidney, hh. 33–51.

Steele, J 2011a, “Indonesian Journalism Post-Suharto: Changing

Ideals and Professional Practices”, in K Sen & D Hill (eds.), Politics and

the Media in Twenty-First Century Indonesia: Decade of Democracy,

Routledge, London and New York.

Steele, J 2011b, “Justice and Journalism: Islam and Journalistic

Values in Indonesia and Malaysia”, Journalism, vol. 12, no. 5, hh.


Steele, J 2013, “From Fashion to the Hereafter: Indonesia’s Republika,

a Modern Islamic Newspaper”, Media Asia (Asian Media Information

& Communication Centre), vol. 40, no. 1, h. 27.

Stoler, AL 2009, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and

Colonial Commonsense, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

U.S. Department of Labor 2012, “Technical Cooperation Project

Summary, PROMOTE: Decent Work for Domestic Workers to End

Child Domestic Work”, U.S. Department of Labor, International

Labor Affairs Bureau, diakses 23 Februari 2017, https://www.dol.


Utama, A & Kusumawati, UD 2015, “Being Child Domestic Worker,

Yantri’s Careless Choice”, CNN Indonesia, 19 September, http://www.


  • There are currently no refbacks.