TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Eko Oktanti Kartini, 50, found it quite difficult to study the law. Understandably so, as she teaches physical education (PE) at the Bengkulu State Elementary School XVIII. Regardless, in October 2017 Eko had to study the Criminal Code as a participant in a paralegal training program in Bengkulu. "For five days we studied articles [of the law] and it wasn’t enough time," she said in mid-July.
The training program Eko participated in, meant to prevent sexual violence in Bengkulu, was organized by the Education Center for Women and Children (PUPA) Foundation working under the non-profit Forum for Service Providers (FPL) for Women Survivors of Violence. Besides Eko, 19 other teachers from various school levels also joined the program and learned about various issues, such as sex and gender, human rights, as well as women and children’s rights.
Two months later, Eko participated in a similar training program, this time in Medan, North Sumatra. But in the second program, Eko and other participants were also taught to become trainers in their own communities. Although the program was short, she believes that the material she received is truly valuable. For example, she came to understand that violence is not only physical but can also be psychological. "And also verbal," she said.
The woman, who has taught PE since 1988, has not kept the new knowledge to herself. She has served as a confidant to her colleagues on occasion, particularly on legal affairs. She will also remember to share the knowledge she received in the paralegal training to her colleagues and students. At the beginning of this month, she and a colleague from the PUPA Foundation will facilitate a third-stage training program, joined by around 30 participants from 15 elementary, middle and high schools in Bengkulu.
Like before, the training will cover capacity-building for teachers as "paralegals," as well as mechanisms for preventing school violence against children and women. "The plan is to have five stages of training," she explained.
FPL has included paralegal training in its program since 2014. "We had even initiated it in prior years," said the member of the National FPL Management Board and PUPA Director Susi Handayani. In 2014, FPL held frequent discussions in Bengkulu on how to prevent violence against women and children. "It was then that we wanted to hold paralegal training as part of the strategy to reduce violence."
In the paralegal training, FPL does not only enlist PUPA, but also MAMPU, an organization working in community empowerment. The three organizations agreed that gender issues could be a way into learning about structural violence against women and, in the end, basic awareness of laws on violence. This is why the organizations also learned to assist women and children survivors of violence.