In this series, our CEDAW team over at UN will be sharing with our readers the journey they are undertaking, in order to present the Sayoni CEDAW Shadow Report. They have already presented their report before the CEDAW Committee, and are now awaiting the government’s presentation to the Committee. You may read the Government’s report here.
We had the most difficult flight while on the way to New York. With multiple wailing babies on a long flight, we were convinced it was the government’s way of torturing us for the audacity of writing a country shadow report in CEDAW highlighting the plight of sexual minority women.
People often asked us why we are always dreaming the impossible. There were criticisms on the effectiveness of this human rights treaty and that better focus should be put on grassroot movements. At the same time, there was also a tremendous amount of support from the community and international friends.
My take is that activism or human rights advocacy is often an incremental process and takes the farsightedness of doers and dreamers alike. Sometimes the tipping point and real changes only come when we are gone from this world.But we do not stop trying for the sake of ourselves and those after us. We do not forget the silent cries of our community. Similarly, activists at home are spurred on to multiple levels of engagement.
Since 2008, there were many moments that were difficult for us. Because this was a first time involvement, we soon found out that there was widespread ignorance of the issues at hand. Much of the surprises came from seasoned activists in women’s groups and gay people themselves. We realised that all alike has been unable to connect the dots on the multiple institutionalised discrimination across numerous platforms in our government system. We were horrified at what we found and the understanding on how it will impact us at every stage of our lives was chilling. It dawned upon us quickly that there is much work to be done.
One of my most dramatic memories related to our 3 years work on CEDAW was being under siege by extremists in Surabaya. Trapped in my hotel room with death threats looming below the building. Azusa from Japan patiently shared with us her experience at the United Nations. On hindsight, the intolerance and violence we experienced strengthened our resolve to do whatever is necessary to address this injustice.
See our media advisory to learn more about CEDAW, the Committee’s questions and the State’s responses.
For updates on Sayoni’s participation in CEDAW, visit: