By Caroline Duncan  24th January 2022 

Yogyakarta, Indonesia has a proliferation of young people who inhabit the streets, often seen as anarchists who are the token of Indonesian family structures and values gone awry (Beazly 2003). These young people are often evicted from their homes due to an array of circumstances, according to the director of Harapan Fian Mas Didin (2022), mainly due to domestic violence or an intergenerational inhabitance of the streets. This article will specifically hone in on the female population. To articulate where these young women who live on the streets (street girls or kimcil in Bahasa Indonesia) are, firstly it is important to address the issues these young women face. 

These street youths collectively come together in order to live an extraordinary way of life, one that bonds these young people through their collective identity named tekyan (Stodulka, 2009). These bonds enforce a sense of subgroups and transformational dynamicism in the street youths way of life. The Indonesian values of traditional gender roles become apparent when observing kimcil. The dangerous nature of the streets result in young women often associating with groups of young street men for the benefit of protection and the sense of collective identity (Didin, 2022). As one can imagine, this creates an environment where if these young women are subject to violence within this subgroup of tekyan they are compelled to stay in this environment therefore perpetuating a severely low level of security and safety for these young women. Harriet Beazley (2003)observed that sex is a large part of the street communities, labelled as ‘sex bebas’ meaning free sex. Beazley (2003, p.190) quotes, 

“Sexual activity, even for young street children, is an intrinsic part of street life, and having sex is an important part of their constructions of masculinity and dominance in the group.”

Street girls are subject to these acts both consensually and otherwise and can be victims of sexual violence as well as the consequences of sexual activity. In Yogyakarta Indonesia, it is illegal for an unmarried woman to buy contraception, therefore risks of sexually transmitted infections as well as unplanned pregnancy are great. This lack of autonomy over reproductive rights as well as access to safe sex is a prominent issue amongst the street community as a whole. The logical claim would be to access medical clinics to mitigate these issues but the majority of the time most street youths do not have a form of identification (identity), and as a consequence most clinics will turn away patients. This process of attaining a form of identification takes roughly 6 months upwards of 2 years, which Harapan Fian actively works with the community to achieve. There is also a heavy stigmatization which occurs to young street single mothers, the surrounding community blames the women themselves for their circumstances as well as shames them, perpetuating the intergenerational cycle of a street girl. This intergenerational pattern is rooted in vicarious trauma and the approach ‘nrimo ing pandum’ a Javanese saying loosely translating to ‘God gives us everything so we must be grateful’ (Didin, 2022)- a collective feeling of not needing to improve their lives.  This is why the work that Harapan Fian does is so important to the community, they work with street girls of Yogyakarta Indonesia in improving access to improve lives affected. The answer to where these street girls are is inconclusive, but it is understood that when these girls are seen on the street it is through a life of danger, struggle and resilience.

Caroline Duncan is an undergraduate studying a dual Bachelor of Sociology (Anthropology) and Economics, they are a student at Curtin University Bentley Campus, contributing to Harapan Fian through the Development Studies Practicum Program (DSPP) with ACICIS Study Indonesia.

Reference List:

  • Beazley, Harriot. 2003. “The Construction And Protection Of Individual And Collective Identities By Street Children And Youth In Indonesia”. Children, Youth And Environments 13 (1).
  • BEAZLEY, HARRIOT. 2003. “Voices From The Margins: Street Children’s Subcultures In Indonesia”. Children’s Geographies 1 (2): 181-200. doi:10.1080/14733280302198.
  • Didin Article Meeting. 2022. Caroline Duncan. Interview by ZOOM. Stodulka, Thomas. 2008. ““Beggars” And “Kings”: Emotional Regulation Of Shame Among Street Youths In A Javanese City In Indonesia”. Emotions As Bio-Cultural Processes, 329-349. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-09546-2_15.