What does it feel to be women pedestrians in Jakarta?

Yes, maybe for some of you whoever been visited Jakarta or at least read any news in online social media ever heard about this kind of issue. Jakarta is a big city, yes even almost as big as Singapore, let say.

In some of the Southeast Asian countries, we might have this common problem with the pedestrian in the capital city. Jakarta is one of the big city in Indonesia, which half of its people either using private transportations (like, car or motorcycle) and public transportation (bus, the commuter line, taxi, angkotojek online, etc).  According to the Jakarta Post, as of 2017, there are about 4.8 million cars in Jakarta and about 13.6 million motorcycles.

Yes, it’s big numbers, right?

I actually one of Transjakarta users in which also quite often to access pedestrian road. Transjakarta itself is the name of the bus company which own by our local government here. I am working in the central part of Jakarta, where some part of the area has a very good pedestrian way, but the other part still worst even not accessible to walk just because of there is a lot of development nearby or hijacked by motorcycle users.

This is one of the problems to walk in a pedestrian way in Jakarta. A lot of motorcycles users take a pedestrian way to avoid a heavy traffic jam on the road. Besides that, you will see a lot of food stalls or trucks parked in pedestrian, in which you will feel either annoyed by them or tempted to buy what they sell (but anyway, it’s unhealthy). There are just a few problems which commonly happens in Jakarta, but actually, the main problem which happens to women pedestrians even far beyond of it.

This week, to be exact on the 22nd of January is known as National Pedestrian Day in Indonesia. And I would like to share my experiences also may be a lot of women experiences dealing with the pedestrian road in Jakarta.

Cat-calling. Girls, be prepared for this! You might hear a lot of guys on the street will tease you by whistle or call you with ‘Mba.. Mba’ or even ‘Neng, neng..’ its a nickname to call girl like Miss, in English. They even often look at you from head to toe, just because you wearing a casual cloth which they thought intentionally to see their attention.

Yes, it sucks, I know.

Sexual harassment. I never had this kind of experience, but I knew some friends or heard some girls who experienced this kind of thing. Last year I heard, there was a woman was sexually assaulted in one of crossing bridge in Pondok Indah, it’s nearby in a place where I live. In Indonesia, this kind of assaults can take place even in a very crowded area, even also in daylight. Unfortunately, in Indonesia, it is such an epidemic and we still don’t have legal protection for sexual harassment.

For women, walking in a big city like Jakarta absolutely will face double risk. First, you never knew when you walk on the sidewalks, you could be raided by motorcycle users. Secondly, you can also be sexually abused.

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation report frankly said Jakarta had the fifth-most dangerous public transportation system for women in the world and the second in Asian countries, after New Delhi, India.

I don’t mean to make my readers feel worried or afraid to visit Jakarta after you guys reading this. But I want to raise this issue to be our common concern and working together to stop sexual harassment… everywhere! And please, also respect our rights as a woman as well as a pedestrian.

Pic by livingnomad.com


  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting testimony on a crucial issue of the daily life in Jakarta. Do you think sexual harassment is a barrier to develop public transportation in Jakarta (given that woman will prefer secure private transportation)? And how do you think about the current solution to prevent harassment, which consists in “hiding” women in exclusive areas in the bus, instead of punishing efficiently the harassers?

    1. Like what I said above, that sexual harassment in Jakarta it’s like an epidemic. In some of the cases, girls/women always feel afraid to report and speak up about harassment in which they experienced. Or somehow even if they report it, then there will be some people who will judge them of what they wore that time in which triggered men to do ‘sexual harassment’.

      One of the good things is in every public transportation which owned by the government has separated areas for girls, but yes, it doesn’t really solve the problem of the sexual harassment itself. And there is still a lot of women who prefer to use public transportation because it is more efficient in term of money and time and it doesn’t make a barrier to develop the public transportation. Indonesian people need to be educated about this and currently, we still have lack of proper sexual education. The concept of ‘sex’ itself still very taboo to talk in public. That’s another problem.

      To give punishment for the harassers? Fyi, in here our jails here even overloaded and still far from ‘a good condition’ and the law in Indonesia usually still have ‘a punishment approach’, rather than approachment to ‘improve the system’ to give rehabilitation for the offenders. Somehow even they already got punishment, it doesn’t make any deterrent effect.
      Anyway, thank you for your response! If we talk about this, we need moooore time to have further discussions, we absolutely can talk in another way of communication 😛

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: