Protecting and empowering women in Indonesia

Nurani Perempuan, a women’s crisis centre in Indonesia, is working tirelessly to prevent violence against women and support survivors of gender-based violence. Here, we meet Nurani Perempuan’s Director Ibu Meri.

My name is Ibu Meri. Like many women in my community, I have been a victim of gender-based violence.  

I know first-hand the psychological and physical impacts of gender-based violence. I believe our culture says that women should be respected, but this isn’t always the case. My society is a strict one. Many women who experience gender-based violence struggle to speak up because they will be stigmatised or discriminated against – or be blamed for what happened to them. 

Ibu Meri Director Nurani Perempuan Indonesia
Illustration of Ibu Meri, Director of Nurani Perempuan in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Creativa

I believe this is wrong. I believe that women in my community should be independent, empowered and free to make their own choices. I want the women in my community who, like me, have experienced gender-based violence to know they are not alone. This is why I do the work I do.

I believe that women in my community should be independent, empowered and free to make their own choices.

— Ibu Meri

I am the Director of Nurani Perempuan a not-for-profit organisation based in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Through this organisation my team and I work every day to support and empower women who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Women reach out to us, in person or online, and we connect them to services including treatment, support, resources and in some cases, law enforcement. For emergencies, we can provide women with safehouses, places where they can go and recover knowing that their abuser cannot contact them. But our help doesn’t end there. 

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Women protesting in front of local government buildings with banners saying: ‘When am I not going to be blamed?’ and: "Violence against women can happen to anyone.’ Photo: Nurani Perempuan

We also provide these women with social integration services, counselling and opportunities for education. Many women who escape gender-based violence struggle with confidence. We want to change that. 

Our other work focuses on prevention – teaching the young about issues related to gender equality and gender-based violence – and carrying out advocacy work at the local and national levels, because change must come from all of society. 

Together, we can inspire others to become agents of change – because no woman or girl should have to endure gender-based violence.

— Ibu Meri

Recently, with the support of a small grant from the Australian Volunteers Program, Nurani Perempuan helped survivors of sexual violence form a support group. Together, the women in this group attended workshops designed to help them change their perspective, to encourage, communicate with and support each other.  

Some women struggled to express themselves, but over time, with the support from other women in the group, they opened up. They have formed a sisterhood and continue to support each other.  

Ibu Meri stood in front of a sign that says: ‘Peaceful Action - Protection for women's rights defenders’ at a demonstration held during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence against women campaign in 2019. Photo: Nurani Perempuan

They know that they are not alone and that they are not the cause of the violence they have experienced.

The work supported by the Australian Volunteers Program will form the basis for future projects, helping women to recover from and thrive after experiences of gender-based violence. Together, we can inspire others in my community to become agents of change – because no woman or girl should have to endure gender-based violence.  

Listen to Ibu Meri share her story here.

To find out how you can support organisations working towards gender equality and eliminating violence against women and girls across the Pacific, Asia and Africa, check out our latest volunteer assignments.