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20 Feb 2024

Alimatul Qibtiyah Uses Human Rights to Promote an Educational System Free of Violence

Educational institutions should be a safe haven for students, but in 2022, there were 355 cases of violence against women in Indonesia’s places of learning that were handled by law enforcement.

The figure comes from the Annual Report of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), which recorded 1,276 reported cases of violence against women in the public domain throughout 2022, including 37 from within educational institutions that were reported directly to the commission.

The cases ranged from sexual violence to intolerant behaviour, such as forcing female students to dress according to the standards of the majority.

As the Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan, it is Alimatul Qibtiyah's main objective to eradicate violence against women in educational institutions.

Before working at Komnas Perempuan, Alim was a Professor of Gender Studies at Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta.

Despite having an in-depth understanding of human rights issues, Alim still felt the need to enrich her knowledge.

One year after taking the role of the Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan, Alim decided to apply for an Australia Awards Short Course in 2021.

“I felt I still lacked certified education concerning human rights,” said Alim, who participated in the Australia Awards Short Course on Human Rights Leadership to Influence Policy, run by the University of New South Wales.

Promoting Violence-Free Areas

In order to create a violence-free educational system, one of the approaches taken by Komnas Perempuan is to integrate Gender-Perspective Human Rights (HAMBG) values, which cover gender justice, non-discrimination, and the prevention and handling of sexual violence.

Together with Komnas Perempuan, Alim has developed an instrument called “Standard Setting for Violence-Free Areas in Educational Institutions”, also known as the Policy Quality Index (IKK).

Published in 2022, the IKK was created with the hope of integrating HAMBG values and increasing the awareness of the values among students, teachers, and the educational institutions themselves.

By using the IKK, Komnas Perempuan will be able to assess how far HAMBG values have been incorporated into the students' character, curriculum, and teachers' capabilities.

The IKK was drafted by Komnas Perempuan in 2020 and it has been continuously improved, including during Alim's participation in the Short Course in 2021.

“The inputs given by the speakers from Australia were something I considered important. The Short Course has given me insights on how to implement the IKK in accordance with human rights,” she said.

“The tools we developed were strengthened and improved during the Short Course to be more effective.”

Alim also mentioned that another Short Course participant from LBH APIK (Legal Aid Institute for the Indonesian Women's Association for Justice) was involved in giving input to the IKK.

“Receiving input from various experts also made us confident in using the tools for monitoring educational institutions,” Alim said.

From January to September 2023, Alim and other colleagues from Komnas Perempuan visited three State Islamic Universities; IAIN Lampung, UIN Semarang, and UIN Samarinda, to monitor the implementation of the IKK and provide capacity building on sexual violence issues to the universities' senior leaders.

Alim stated that after the monitoring, there had been an increase in awareness among the university management regarding sexual violence issues.

Currently, Komnas Perempuan is in the process of developing an indicator similar to the IKK to be applied within the scope of the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises and State-Owned Enterprises.

The Bittersweet Life of Alim

Amidst the bustle of her career as a commissioner, Alim is also actively engaged in Islamic organisations in Indonesia, such as Aisyiyah, Majlis Tarjih, and Tajdid of Muhammadiyah.

Alim felt the Short Course would help her educate the Muslim community while still upholding human rights values.

“I teach how to respect the diversity that exists in our everyday life,” Alim mentioned how she has discussed the obligation to wear a hijab for women without condemning those with differing opinions.

“I emphasise not to use the majority views as the absolute truth,” she adds.

Looking into Alim’s memoir titled “Takdir di Ujung Ikhtiar”, one can see a life story filled with not only impressive feats and achievements but also struggles and hardships.

There was a time when Alim was almost sent to the United States to work as a nanny because her family's financial condition hindered her from continuing her studies after graduating from high school.

However, her strong determination eventually led her to achieve a higher education, and even become a professor.

When speaking about her future goals, Alim repeatedly expressed her gratitude to God for what she accomplished, from working as a lecturer to being appointed Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan.

“My dream now is how I can manifest my thoughts into reality for the sake of a better future, and so all people can live comfortably regardless of their background.”

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