Indonesian Waria Activist Registers to be Human Rights Commissioner
A high-profile member of Indonesia’s large transgender community has registered to become a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas-Ham).
Yulianus Rettoblaut, known as Mami Yuli or Mother Yuli, said on Friday that she was seeking to become a commissioner to fight for the rights to Indonesia’s ‘waria’ community, an Indonesian word taken from wanitia (woman) and pria (man).
Speaking at Komnas-Ham in Central Jakarta, Yuli said she would also fight for the rights of gay and lesbian communities as well as other heavily marginalized groups.
Yuli, head of the Communication Forum of Indonesia Transgender, said that high on her agenda was to allow transgender people access to school for a formal education to increase their career prospects.
Yuli has a law degree from Universitas Islam At Tahiriyah.
Another key issue was to fight for the rights of elderly transgender people who were often homeless and left to fend for themselves.
“We will teach them skills such as baking cakes and other things so they can live independently and be productive,” Yuli said.
Fellow transgender activist Merlyn Sopjan said many transgenders were forced to quit school because they were mocked.
“They are always bullied: it is no wonder many become traumatized and refuse to return to school,” Merlyn said. “At the end, they have no skills to work in the formal sector and end up in street.”
She said that while transgender people were treated better in the big cities, discrimination was pervasive.
“Transgender people are forbidden to use woman’s toilets,” she said. “Even for a small thing such as using a public facility, we’re often discriminated against.”