Jobs are hard to find for women who have served prison terms in Indonesia. Newly established Second Chance Foundation however has plans to help them rebuild their lives through work that leads to financial independence.
By Devianti Faridz, Indonesia correspondent,Channel NewsAsia
POSTED: 16 Mar 2015 19:06
UPDATED: 16 Mar 2015 22:14
BANTEN, INDONESIA: Jobs are hard to find for women who have served prison terms in Indonesia. A newly established foundation however has plans to help them rebuild their lives through work that leads to financial independence.
At a correctional facility in Tangerang, Banten, female prisoners cook up snacks, cookies and sometimes dishes as part of a basic catering service offered at the prison. But their clientele is limited to the social circle of prisoner families and employees. However the Second Chance Foundation wants to expand their market for food and add fashion and handicrafts made in prison.
The person behind the move is the wife of a former Law and Human Rights minister inspired to continue her prison-based social programmes working with a civil servants’ organization called Dharma Wanita.
Second Chance Foundation’s chairwoman, Evy Amir Syamsuddin, said: “We will map out which high-quality products are being made in prisons so they can be linked up with factories or companies that require these items. That’s where we come in, helping prisoners whose access to the outside world is limited.”
Apart from marketing, the foundation will tap into business networks to raise funds and hire professionals to teach skills currently in demand. In addition, prison authorities want to see better product packaging to widen appeal to potential customers.
Murbihastuti, head of Tangerang Womens’ Prison, said: “We’re competing with similar products in the real market. Although we have product orders coming in, we don’t know how to package them properly. We’ve received inputs on how to package the products, but in the end it didn’t attract many buyers.”
Because of social stigma, many former women convicts face difficulties in getting jobs once they return to society. Some revert back to crime to make ends meet. Prisoners at Tangerang Womens’ Prison said what they need most is help to secure a permanent paying jobs or start-up capital to start a home business.
Prisoners get paid a minimum US$13 a month for their labour. That does not include profits earned from products they can sell. The money goes into a personal deposit and can be withdrawn for personal expenses. But with sales limited, the savings are not enough for the prisoners to have a nest egg when they are released.
Lasti Annisa, a parolee who now volunteers to give religious sermons in prison, said skills and capital are key. She said: “If prisoners are able to embroider or knit in beads, then give them that job opportunity and the needed supplies. With the basic resources at hand, they are able to sell their products and the profits can be shared among them.”
The Second Chance Foundation also plans to get small and medium enterprises to hire the released convicts.