Sr Maria Goretti Samosir and Sr Chatarina Supatmiyati are engaged in missionary work. Women trafficking is widespread in East Nusa Tenggara Province. The General House of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd is currently hosting a six-day meeting to address this issue.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Sisters of the Good Shepherd are among the most active religious orders in Indonesia in the struggle against human trafficking and domestic violence.
Known as Suster Gembala Baik or Rgs across the country, the nuns are noted for their great work in the humanitarian field.
AsiaNews spoke to two of them at their General House in Jatinegara Barat (East Jakarta) about their work to protect human dignity, especially that of women.
Sister Maria Goretti Samosir, an ethnic Batak who hails from North Sumatera province, performed her missionary service among prostitutes and disadvantaged women, first in Ethiopia for nine years (1997-2006) and then in Holland (2006-2008).
Back in Indonesia, she got involved in initiatives to prevent illegal migration and human trafficking.
"Our strong commitment to human dignity, especially women who are victims of ill-treatment and domestic violence, falls within the spiritual purview of our congregation,” Sr Maria said. “In recent years we have also worked for those who have subjected to human trafficking."
Sister Chatarina Supatmiyati, who was elected provincial leader for Indonesia in 2014, has been serving for years in the diocese of Ruteng where such practices are widespread.
Located on the predominantly Catholic island of Flores (East Nusa Tenggara province), the area is one of the most fertile in the country in terms of farming and vocations.
Tried hard by farm work, local women are often caught up in migrant traffic networks. Given false promises of higher wages, they are lured away from their homeland to work abroad at risk of being exploited.
"Our concern’” Sr Chatharina said, “is to convince these young women that ii is better for them from a social and economic point of view to work in agriculture than join the ranks of migrant workers."
Men too are affected by human trafficking in East Nusa Tenggara.
The nun explained that she came across many cases in which workers did not have the proper papers to work abroad, which left them without protection in case of an emergency.
"Most of these people do not know about these papers, because they work in remote palm plantations in western Malaysia," Sister Chatarina noted.
To counter this problem, nuns from nine different religious orders are currently meeting at the General House in Jatinegara Barat.
Between 22 and 28 October, the sisters will examine various educational modules in order to enhance understanding among the clergy and the laity about these serious humanitarian problems.
The initiative was organised by the Counter Women Trafficking Commission (CWTC), a body that is part of the Indonesian Association of Women Religious (IBSI).