Asia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peacebuilding
    Gender Equity

    Help for women affected by violence in Asia

    Project Number: 225.1008

    Sexual violence against women is widespread in Indonesia and Malaysia. Due to a lack of income and future prospects, hundreds of thousands of Indonesians migrate to neighboring countries and often experience violence and exploitation in this vulnerable situation, such as in Hong Kong. This project advocates for women's rights and overcoming gender-based violence by providing shelter, psychological, legal and economic support to victims. Key actors in the administration, religious communities and teachers are trained on the topic and appropriate contact points are set up. The children of illegalized migrant workers in Malaysia receive schooling in community learning centers. The supraregional platform for safe and fair migration serves to exchange and coordinate our civil society partners with each other, networks them with authorities and organizes awareness campaigns.

    Background information

    Women are particularly vulnerable in a generally patriarchal context, as in many Asian countries, as they are also subordinate to their husbands under civil law. The husband is considered the head of the family with far-reaching powers of control and domination. Indonesian and Malaysian law makes the spouse who leaves the home first guilty and thus discriminates against women who move away with their children because they have experienced domestic violence. Traditional cultural norms, characterized by poverty, still lead to the marriage of underage girls in Indonesia and Malaysia, which is a form of structural violence. In Indonesia, around 1.4 million women are under the age of 18 when they get married each year, with marriages often being arranged by the heads of the family and the will of the young women concerned not being respected.

    In order to improve their economic situation, many Indonesians seek employment abroad, for example in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore or the Middle East. Others are even forced by their families to earn money as migrant workers. Quite a few fall victim to human traffickers. Over nine million Indonesians work abroad. 75 percent of them are women; very often they are employed as domestic workers and caregivers.

    In the Hong Kong project region, around 380,000 foreign domestic workers mostly work under very poor conditions, with more than 40 percent of them coming from Indonesia. The lack of education worsens the situation of migrant workers in particular: Only a few know their rights and can seek help or defend themselves in cases of abuse, sexual exploitation or unhealthy conditions in the workplace.

    Malaysia has become one of the most popular destination countries for unskilled migrant workers, with a large number of migrants entering the country without papers. In the Malaysian province of Sabah, where Mission 21 is active, there are 800,000 stateless people, which leads to complex problems. The Education Act of 1996 (Act 550) prohibits children of undocumented irregular migrants from attending public schools. The denial of education prevents these children from achieving a better future. Church-run learning centers are trying to close this gap, which requires cooperation with Indonesian school authorities to ensure that qualifications are recognized when the children later return to their parents' home country.

    Project goals

    • Prevention of sexualized and gender-based violence, including human trafficking, and its structural causes
    • Strengthening the legal rights of women, youth and children, LGBTQI+, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups such as migrant workers and their children.
    • Raising awareness among key players such as authorities, traditional and religious leaders, teachers, men and boys to promote gender equality
    • Victims of sexual and gender-based violence receive legal and psychosocial support and are given access to shelters.
    • Access to education for children of migrant workers

    Target groups

    The primary target group are women who are victims of disenfranchisement, exploitation and violence in their own families or as migrant workers in foreign households or along the migration chain, or who are exposed to this risk. The children of irregular migrant workers in Sabah, Malaysia, are also part of the target group. Men are included in prevention work and campaigns, because gender justice can only be achieved if women and men work together towards it.


    • Prevention activities, such as skills development for community leaders, educators and activists, and public awareness campaigns on: Gender norms and power relations; physical safety and protection; legal frameworks and access to justice; safe access to basic needs; economic, educational and social equity.
    • Support measures for people affected by sexual and gender-based violence with a focus on: physical, mental and psychosocial health; legal assistance and physical protection; socio-economic empowerment; school education for children of migrants.
    • Annual regional platform on "Safe and Fair Migration" for mutual learning, networking with authorities and other actors, and planning joint actions and campaigns for better regional coordination and transnational accompaniment of victims.

    Project progress

    In the area of direct support for victims of sexualized and gender-based violence, including human trafficking, our partner organizations assisted a total of 238 (predominantly female) people. The increase in the number of victims supported compared to previous years shows that awareness of gender-based violence is growing and more people are making use of support services. Thanks to reintegration and income-generating measures, some of those affected were able to continue their studies or set up their own business. For offenders, the GKP newly offered rehabilitation courses at its women's shelter "Pasundan Durebang" in Bandung to promote long-term behavior change. The shelter "House of Hope" of the GMIT in Kupang succeeded in supporting the families of 83 migrant workers who died abroad, a sad high in the death toll.

    In its service area, GMIT established support and prevention teams for victims of sexualized violence and human trafficking in ten parishes. In West Java, the GMIT was able to work with the Muslim civil society organization Sapa Institute to establish contact with the Islamic Union of Indonesia, which includes fundamentalist groups. This enabled it to expand its education and awareness-raising activities on the issue of gender-based violence.

    In the area of prevention, work was done structurally to change gender roles and relationships in favor of less violent coexistence. Approximately 3,965 people (about one-third men, two-thirds women, five people from the LGBTIQ+ community) participated in awareness-raising activities. Public awareness events, seminars, campaigns, and panel discussions were attended by 3,139 people. Capacity building initiatives, including trainings, courses, and workshops, were attended by 651 people, mostly women. Advocacy activities in policy and church settings reached 494 people directly. Several partner organizations are now implementing a Code of Conduct for the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) and took action to promote gender equality in leadership positions. The measures are bearing fruit: Three of the project's five partner churches are currently led by women, including the GKEwhich covers an enormous area (almost all of Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo). Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong have been Christian Action educated about gender equity and empowered to better exercise their rights.

    The new law on the criminalization of sexual violence in Indonesia, which was passed in 2022, was implemented thanks in part to the tireless lobbying work of our partners. GKP, PERUATI and PGI and their intensive interfaith networking work. In addition, a draft law was introduced in West Java that provides for the creation of integrated services for women, children and migrant workers.

    In Sabah, Malaysia, 746 children of illegalized Indonesian migrant workers, who are excluded from public schools due to their parents' lack of residency rights, attended classes at the five community learning centers of the BCCM. 42 new teachers were trained. 67 people, consisting of teachers and employees of educational institutions in Bandung and the surrounding area, learned how to prevent sexualized violence in schools in training sessions, as did 60 primary and secondary school students.

    Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong

    • 4.5 million Indonesian women are migrant workers abroad
    • Over 500,000 reported cases of violence against women in Indonesia
    • 68% Proportion of domestic violence in reported incidents of violence in Indonesia.

    Budget basic project 2024

    CHF 299'357


    Jacqueline Brunner

    Responsible church partnerships;
    Responsible legacies and bequests

    Tel. 061 260 23 37
    ► E-mail

    Mathias Waldmeyer

    Team leader and program manager Asia
    Tel: +41 (0)61 260 22 63
    ► E-mail

    Hope thanks to your support

    Mission 21
    Protestant Mission Basel

    PO Box 270
    Missionsstrasse 21
    4009 Basel, Switzerland
    Tel.: +41 (0)61 260 21 20

    Donation account Switzerland:
    IBAN: CH58 0900 0000 4072 6233 2
    Tax exemption number:

    Donation account Germany:
    Savings Bank Lörrach-Rheinfelden
    Swift BIC: SKLODE66
    BLZ: 683 500 48
    IBAN: DE39 6835 0048 0001 0323 33
    Account No. : 1032333

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