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Strengthening rehabilitation opportunities for female offenders in Indonesia

Jakarta (Indonesia), 24 January 2019
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Indonesia, the Directorate-General of Corrections (DGC) of Indonesia, and Second Chance Foundation signed a new agreement to enhance vocational training and work opportunities in traditional Indonesian batik production for prisoners in Class IIA Semarang Women's Prison in Central Java, Indonesia.

The Director General of Corrections, Ms. Sri Puguh Budi Utami, noted that this agreement is a form of the Government of Indonesia's commitment to "collaborate with other parties in order to enhance the competency of all its citizens so that they could achieve a better life." Prison-based rehabilitation and social integration programme, such as vocational training and work training, are essential to reducing recidivism and preparing inmates to be a contributing member of society. However, with limited infrastrucutre, tools, and equipment, Semarang Women's prison provides limited opportunities for prisoner rehabilitation and social reintegration. The newly signed agreement, which is part of UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, therefore seeks to provide prisoners with professional skills and official certificates to increase their employment prospects upon release and prevent recidivism. The selection of Semarang Women's Prison is also "a noted achievement. Although women makeup a small percentage of the prison population, they face unique challenges as prisons are generally not desgned for women. We see this agreement as an opportunity to enhance services for women in the corrections system," noted UNODC Indonesia Country Manager, Mr. Collie F. Brown.

This initiative aligns with the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules), which call on states to develop and implement prison-based rehabilitation programmes in order to equip inmates with the skills and qualifications to rebuild their lives upon release.

The batik vocational training programme in Semarang Women's Prison was first established in 2012 with the goal of training the inmates on the use of natural colorant in Batik production, which is still a unique procedure in Indonesia. Prisoners who have passed the evaluation and received recommendation from the rehabilitation staff get the opportunity to participate in a three-month vocational training cycle, provided by Second Chance Foundation, through which they gain theoretical background knowledge as well as practical skills in the techniques of traditional Indonesian batik production. After completion of the training programme, prisoners have the possibility to continue working at the production facility, with remuneration based on the profit resulting from the sale of the fabrics.

Indonesian Batik, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009, has a long-standing tradition in Indonesia. The technique involves hand-drawing or stamping patterns onto fabric with hot wax to create a surface that resists dying, thus allowing individual parts of the fabric to be coloured selectively. Batik clothes enjoy high popularity in the country and naturally-dyed batik carries a high economic value, making the fabrics of batik from Semarang Women's Prison well-suited for sale on the local market.

Through UNODC's support, the work training premises of Semarang Women's Prison will be modernized and enhanced to increase the number of prisoners benefiting from the vocational training programme and subsequent employment. In order to ensure that the production cycle of the fabrics is environmentally friendly and sustainable, the workshop will also be equipped with a wastewater management system and a hot wax recycling tool.

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