Insight from 6th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

I am proud to help Alifatul Arifiati and Maria Mustika wrote and submitted their abstract to this event. Alifatul brought up reproductive and sexual information which close to her work in Fahmina Institute. She highlighted male teachers domination and misogyny interpretation of Koran that led female students experience sexual violence or sexual ignorance. Alif recommended the need of more female teachers who recognize and understand about women’s sexuality and reproductive rights to increase young women’s awareness and confidence, hence protect them against sexual violence. It is tough and long-run task hence Fahmina Institute also train teachers inside islamic boarding schools to understand gender issues where reproductive health and rights are part of it.

The event was smaller compare to AWID forum and I feel more comfortable with it. Not to mention that it was held in Yogyakarta, a nine-hour drive from where I lived and I wasn’t part of the committee. Therefore I can absorbed many things and had the time to sink in the substance.

I was thrilled that the committee has commit to involved young women by having youth forum as preliminary event. The youth participants were smart, energetic, and eager to learn. They are well selected. Some of them have gender-bias perspective but they were ready to listen and learn. It’s like creating an alternative hanging out venue where you won’t you be considered “cool” if you know nothing about sexuality issues. The facilitator of the forum is a young man from The Philippines. There was no adult to check on us. I guess I don’t consider myself as an adult. The member of the group remind each other if someone made biased comment or terms. Aside the sessions, there was also youth representatives in the plennary.

I didn’t attend HIVOS-sponsored satellite session because I have a meeting with JASS Indonesia alumnae who lives in Yogyakarta. But HIVOS project officer, Maesy, told me that they leave it to the youth people to organize and choose the topic.

I’m very interested in Wierenga’s presentation on The Role of Religion in Enforcing Heteronormativity in India and Indonesia. Also to another person in the same panel, Paridhi Jha who presented on Gender Influences and Power Politics in Labour Rooms which provided good example of sexual politic in practice.

In the session of “sexuality in changing culture”, I was impressed by Julie Rostina’s research about Adolescent Friendly Health Services (AFHS) in Primary Health Care (PHC) in South Jakarta in 2009. It was a pilot project few years ago in Indonesia and among hundreds of AFHS, only 4 of them still operate regularly. Among the four, none of them offer the confidentiality comfort needed by youth to consult their sexual issues.

It was great to hear some initiatives and projects that I never heard before and to know how they developed or undeveloped. I learned from AWID 2008 conference that one must has stamina, focus, and concentration to optimizing his/her involvement in a big international conference. So I have good preparation and the event meet most of my expectation, except the food. I am not surprised. It’s Jogja anyway.


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