Women ‘Agents’ Fight Corruption Through Games, ‘Arisan’ and Other Initiatives

Across Indonesia, thousands of female corruption fighters are educating generations on what corruption is and how not to take part in corrupt practices.

  • December 21, 2017
  • 4 min read
Women ‘Agents’ Fight Corruption Through Games, ‘Arisan’ and Other Initiatives

Ending massive corruption in Indonesia requires shifting the culture and changing perception of what graft is across generations. This is the central objective of Saya Perempuan Antikorupsi (I am an Anti-Corruption Woman), a nationwide grassroots movement initiated by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and Australia Indonesia Partnership For Justice (AIPJ).
Using informal methods like games or community gathering, SPAK has reached over a million people since it was established in April 2014. It is now present in 34 provinces in Indonesia with over 1,300 “agents” who deliver their messages in schools, universities, government offices, entrepreneurs, organizations as well as communities. These agents are made up of women from various backgrounds, from law enforcers, journalists, teachers, housewives, and including people with disabilities.
The focus is on character building and the key message emphasizes on honesty.
“A research conducted by KPK in 2013 in Solo and Jogjakarta, found that only 4 percent of parents teach honesty to their children,” said Ela Persia, one of SPAK’s agents from Madura during one of the panel discussions at the 5th Urban Social Forum last weekend in Bandung, West Java.
“What we mean by honesty is not theoretical honesty, but rather how honesty is practiced in everyday life,” she added.
Women play a central role in providing moral education to children and families, said policewoman Adj. Comr. Dwi Astuti, who is a member of SPAK in Yogyakarta. They are also more likely to be socially engaged in their communities than men. In addition, not only are women usually more involved in child rearing, they also often set the family’s budget. In many families the men are not even trusted with ATM cards, Dwi said.
“Women are more strategic,” said Dwi. “If you can get to a woman, you can get to their families and their neighbors,” she said.
Various age-appropriate board games are used in delivering the message and they are designed to be used for students, professionals to housewives.

“For example, for kids in kindergarten and elementary school, we base our teaching on Semai, a portmanteau for Sembilan Nilai Moral (nine moral values), to build anti-corruption character and behavior from an early age, taking examples from everyday life,” said Dwi.

For grownups, cards on the board games include questions on practices that have long been accepted as the norm, such as: “Is greasing the palm of a traffic police who pulls you over on the street an act of corruption?” Or: “Is giving your child’s teacher a gift an act of corruption?”
For many, these are considered innocent transactions, Dwi said, but they are actually acts of corruption, and through participating in the games, people realize that everyone plays a role when it comes to corruption.
“Reform comes from changing people’s behavior. If people stop giving money to the police, the police will stop expecting it,” said Dwi.
The agents also develop their own initiatives to meet the local needs. At her hometown of Bangkalan District, Madura, Ella focused on Honest Regional Election with banners bearing catchy phrases like “People Need a Leader, Not a Corrupt Mafia.”
“We didn’t have the courage to speak out against corruption in Madura, especially in Bangkalan. One of my friend was thrown with hydrochloric acid,” recalled Ela. “The threats didn’t stop me from fighting corruption, so I came up with creative ideas, like the banners.”
Harijah Damis, a SPAK’s agent who is also the former Vice Chair of Lamongan’s Religious Court, also made an effort to improve the services in queue court by putting in place an “electronic queue.”
“There are many queues in the court, from those waiting for mediation, picking up divorce certificates, to those related to payment of court cases, which gave rise to corruption through illegal charges to expedite the process,” said Harijah.
“Having the electronic queue prevents corrupt practices. Some Religious Courts have also adopted this innovation,” she added.
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