Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A National City and County Human Rights Conference was held on Wednesday in Central Jakarta. Discussions focussed on the problems faced by some of the weakest groups in Indonesian society, such as people with disabilities (the blind and physically challenged) and people without proper identity papers.
As one of the guest speakers, Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa also spoke about a new emerging problem, blindness among young people who drink poorly brewed alcoholic beverages.
Increasingly, youth have been mixing power drinks and light alcoholic beverages with backroom alcohol, with devastating effects. Toxic optic neuropathy due to methanol intoxication can be a life-threatening event that occurs accidentally when victims mistake, or substitute, methanol for ethyl alcohol. If not promptly treated, it can cause permanent blindness.
The latest incident involved a young man in Jakarta who was found alive but has lost his eyesight due to alcohol abuse.
The situation is made worse by the lack of adequate government policies to help the country’s 2.8 million blind people.
However, blindness is not the only disability. Some people born with physical problems lead a lonely and marginalised life from early on, sometimes even within their own family.
One such people is Gufron Sakiril who told conference participants about his experience of marginalisation and isolation because one of his hands did not fully develop.
Children born out of wedlock are another group that is marginalised because they are denied identity papers. In many cases, this occurs when men cannot afford the bridewealth or bride price (belis) to get married. Without it, the formal marriage cannot occur.
Thus, children born out of wedlock are not registered because their parents cannot show their marriage certificate. Hence, they are denied access to basic services like education and health care.
One example is a district in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province where 85 per cent of the population lacks a birth certificate.
A similar situation applies to migrant workers who cannot register in their place of work and residence, and thus enjoy their rights.
At the end of the meeting, Minister Indar Parawansa explained that her department was committed to policies that promote the integration of disabled people. "This is one of my priorities,” she said.