The General Elections (Pemilu) which will take place in April 2019 have recently caused anxiety, especially for people with mental disabilities. This anxiety arises when the suffrage of people with psychosocial disabilities (ODDP) and people with mental retardation as determined in the Permanent Voter List (DPT) by the General Election Commission is debated by various parties. The rejection of the ODDP suffrage was linked with the effort to win one of the presidential and vice presidential candidate pairs, and is even considered an attempt to rig the democratic election process which is conducted every five years.
The debate over the suffrage for ODPP shows how stigma and discrimination are still often experienced by people with disabilities, especially mental disabilities with various statements such as “crazy people vote”. Not many people know that the right of people with disabilities to vote, just like other Indonesian citizens, is regulated in Law No. 8 Year 2016. A year earlier, the Constitutional Court issued decision No. 135/PUU-XIII/2015 to strengthen the recommendations of the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) regarding the participation of persons with mental disabilities in elections. In the decision, it was stated that people with mental disabilities could exercise their voting rights and be included in the 2018 elections and 2019 elections as long as they did not experience permanent mental and memory impairment.
The actual condition of ODPP is not much different from other disabilities, even from people who are not disabled. Mental disorders experienced by ODPP are not permanent that can cause memory loss and behavioral disorders. The Ministry of Health in Basic Health Research in 2018 said that as many as 7 out of 100 residents in Indonesia experience psychotic mental disorders. If calculated based on the population of Indonesia, there are approximately 1.6 million people included in people with psychosis mental disorders. Twenty percent or around 320 thousand of them are citizens of productive age or voter age. If data from the KPU states that the number of 2019 Permanent Voter Lists (DPT) is 192 million, there is a risk of the number of votes lost by 0.2 percent – a number that is not small if the ODDP voting rights are removed.
There are quite many ODDP portraits that show a good quality of life. They can interact with the surrounding community, involved in various professions, receive higher education and record achievements. Yeni Rosa Damayanti, for example, is a bipolar ODDP who has led the Healthy Mental Association Foundation to fight for the rights of persons with mental disabilities.
As published in Tirto.id, Yogyakarta Special Region (DIY) is one of the areas with the highest prevalence of severe mental disorders in Indonesia. Sasana Inklusi dan Gerakan Advokasi Difabel Indonesia (SIGAB), based in Yogyakarta, held a discussion with KPU of DIY and presented two ODDP to present testimonies. One ODDP, Erni said that she had participated in the elections three times and had never experienced significant obstacles because she was aware of her choices without coercion or direction from other parties. Another ODPP, Madonna, also strengthened the testimony with her experience in the election. There was nothing strange on the election day. No one refused or prevented her from using the right to vote. From this experience, it appears that the concerns of some parties and some people are groundless. In fact it is important for ODDP to use their voting rights. They are also Indonesian citizens who have the same right to determine the future of the nation through elected regional heads, legislators and presidents. The data collection that has been done by KPU is actually an effort to fight discrimination in the categorization of various disabilities. So far, disabilities are identical to those seen as physical disabilities. There are still many who do not understand that ODDP is also a diffable condition.
In addition to ODDP’s experience in using their voting rights, ODDP have also been proven to be able to interact with the community. Baciro and Bausasran villages in DIY are examples of locations where ODPP can interact and be accepted in the community. In the village, there are self-help groups of Laras Jiwo (Harmony of the Soul) and Tresno Jiwo (Lovable Soul) with the members consist of ODDP and their families, cadres of health workers, and cadres of Family Welfare Development (PKK). This group was formed to enhance the role of ODDP in the community, encourage community acceptance of ODDP, and fulfill ODDP rights in development. Not only that, this group has also become an acupressure massage business unit that has been serving clients around their homes, making herbal medicine, and making shibori batik. There are also ODDP who have independently opened online businesses. This group not only provides benefits for ODDP, but also for the surrounding community through various social service activities. At present, the City Government continues to encourage the capacity of the two villages to become a model village of Siaga Sehat Jiwa.
Warni (50 years old), a member of a self-help group in Baciro Village, has been participating in the General Elections since 2004. Even this year, she has been registered in the DPT for the 2019 Election. Warni maintains her condition with routine control to Puskesmas to prevent relapse. In where she lives, no one has banned or rejected her from participating in the General Election. Society does not make a fuss about Warni by considering her as a “crazy person”, on the contrary always involving Warni in social activities.
In fact, openness and acceptance like this are missed by mentally diffabled people. Without the need for analysis and the uproar of noisy politicians in newspapers and television, mentally diffabled people can live in harmony in the area where they live and exercise their voting rights. If the presidential and vice presidential candidates to be elected are leaders who will be committed to improving the welfare of their communities, especially groups that are often marginalized such as persons with disabilities, then it is only right that the suffrage of persons with disabilities are guaranteed and protected.
Ranie Ayu Hapsari is the Project Manager of Disability Pillar of Program Peduli. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the writer.