By: Khalis Nur Hanifah
Indonesia is a country that sends a quite big number of workers to other countries. Based on BNP2TKI data in 2018, until September, there are 204,836 workers who had been sent to become migrant workers. As many as 51% of migrant workers are placed in the informal sector and 69% of the total number of migrant workers are female workers. Meanwhile, 39% of the total migrant workers are single. That means that most of the workers are parents with married or divorced status. The large number of married female migrant workers whose status is no longer single means that these workers are housewives.
Based on Law Number 23 year 2012 article 26 paragraph 1, it is stated that the obligation of parents to children is to take care of, bring up, educate, and protect their children, develop children according to their abilities, talents, and interests, and prevent marriages at children’s age. When one of the parents decides to work abroad, then the obligation cannot be fulfilled maximally. Their children lose their right to care and protection. As a result, the primary role of the parents is replaced by foster parents or guardians. However, this role cannot be replaced fully by foster parents.
Children of migrant workers who should be accompanied by their fathers and mothers must temporarily lose the companion figure so they become vulnerable. Since migrant workers have not received more attention to get social security, their children are often placed at a minimum quality of life.
A study conducted by Nurhidayati, et al. shows that 40% of children of migrant workers have poor psychosocial development, such as declining achievement of the children or the growth that do not increase much, the children do not have many friends and/or close friends, and so forth.
Meanwhile, a UNICEF report in 2007 shows that children in their teens who are left by their parents working abroad are more at risk of social deviance and are involved in criminal acts, such as skipping school, drug abuse, alcohol, and so on.
Research conducted by Riafani in the village of Dadapan, Indramayu, shows that the moral development of daughters of migrant workers are in problem because they only receive education and care from fathers or relatives. Neither father nor relatives give consistent attention to children. They are considered unable to replace the role of the mother so that the character of children formed tends to be deviant.
The emotional burden felt by children of migrant worker is greater. Especially for children left by their mothers. Considering the mother is the most attached figure, irreplaceable for the children, the children’s mental development is more or less influenced by their mother (Al-Buhori in Candrasari 2012: 6).
Many studies have shown the negative effects caused by the lack of the role of parents who become migrant workers. Although there are also studies that show that with proper parenting, deviant behavior and other negative effects can be minimized. However, children of migrant workers need special attention from the government and surrounding communities.
Law Number 18 Year 2017 on the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers has a significant change compared to the previous law which was considered unfavorable to migrant workers. However, there are still regulations that are considered less favoring migrant workers, especially in social security. The government has not specifically regulated protection for the children of migrant workers. For this reason, there is a need for special regulations governing children of migrant workers to grow as other children.
The government needs to limit sending of female workers who have children by setting a minimum age limit for children who are left behind. This is so that the children can get enough attention and have the guidance or even a hold on to life before they are left because the mother is the closest family who first educates the child so that the basic provisions for the child are implanted by the mother.
The provision of a shelter for children of migrant workers is needed. The aim is to accommodate and educate the children of migrant workers to be characterized and attentive. So that they do not commit deviance and can continue to live independently.
Provision of the shelter will be better if added with psychological services. considering children of migrant workers have quite big emotional burden. With this service, children can tell or consult on how they are feeling or what problems they are facing, so that children can develop well with not much pressure.
Education insurance is needed for the children of migrant workers, especially for children whose parents have died as migrant workers. The government can provide tuition assistance and school support, as well as affirmative assistance that allows children to access education as desired. Even though their parents have passed away.
In addition, it is necessary to ratify special regulations that guarantee the rights of children of migrant workers, both for those in Indonesia and those abroad. So that children can access the rights they should have and no longer be vulnerable groups.
This essay was written by Khalis Nur Hanifah for an essay writing competition organized by Program Peduli. The views of the writer do not reflect the views of Program Peduli.