TIME Asia

Seven Out of 10 Kids Across Five Asian Nations Experienced Violence at School

Indonesia reported the worst rate of school violence, with 84% of children having experienced it

Seven out of 10 children in Asia have experienced violence in school, a study of over 9,000 students across five countries revealed.

Conducted by children’s-rights group Plan under its Promoting Equality and Safety in Schools initiative, the study collected data from male and female students ages 12 to 17, as well as others involved in their education like parents, teachers and headmasters, in Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Nepal.

The study has several disturbing implications, with emotional violence being the most prevalent form of school harassment, followed by physical violence. More boys reported facing physical violence than girls did, and regressive gender attitudes are a significant contributor to school violence overall.

Indonesia showed the highest rate of gender-based violence in schools out of the five countries surveyed, with 84% of students having experienced violence, while Pakistan had the lowest at 43%. “Even the bottom end of the scale — 43% in Pakistan — is unacceptable,” said Mark Pierce, Plan’s Asia regional director.

The prevalence of the problem in the Southeast Asian nation is illustrated by shocking videos uploaded to YouTube, like the one below that shows a girl at a primary school in West Sumatra’s Bukittinggi being kicked and beaten by her classmates.

Another video, uploaded as recently as last month, shows another girl being held in a choke hold by a male peer while another jumps in and out of the frame to punch her and make suggestive motions — culminating in an all-out brawl.

Several other causes and factors contributing to school violence — perpetrated by both peers and authority figures — exist even within the limited scope of the study, such as students’ lack of trust in existing reporting mechanisms, traditional and cultural norms, and a low rate of intervention by observers.

With reporting by Yenni Kwok

TIME portfolio

Meet the Sulfur Miners of Eastern Java

Photos reveal the hazardous work of sulfur miners at Kawah Ijen, a crater in eastern Java, Indonesia

Looming 2,799 m (9,183 ft.) above sea level, Gunung Ijen in Indonesia’s eastern Java is a volcanic wonder that attract hundreds of foreign and domestic tourists daily. During daytime, they climb the mountaintop to reach Kawah Ijen, the volcano’s crater lake famous for its mesmerizing turquoise hue. When darkness descends, hikers clamor to witness the glowing blue liquid fire that streams from the crater down the mountainsides. It isn’t lava, but the sulfur for which Kawah Ijen is renowned.

It is also sulfur that brings hundreds of miners to Kawah Ijen every day. They make the perilous journey climbing 9,000 ft. to the summit and then 3,000 ft. down into the crater. The miners descend to the womb of the volcano, defying scorching heat and rarefied air, in search of the precious material that is used to manufacture countless products — from matches, rubber, insecticides and fertilizer to cosmetics, batteries, sugar and film.

Rome-based photographer Luca Catalano Gonzaga traveled to Indonesia in late last year and spent 10 days at Gunung Ijen to capture the miners’ daily toil. Many of the photos were taken after dark, as many men prefer to work when the heat is more tolerable.

Gonzaga titles his project “Devil’s Gold,” a biblical allusion to hell as the fiery lake that burns with brimstone — the ancient name for sulfur. Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen is certainly a hellish job. Not much has changed since mining officially began here in 1968. Every day, around 300 men leave the base camp carrying traditional equipment like torches and metal poles to break the sulfur slabs, though with little protective gear. Only a few men are given gas masks, while the rest rely on wet scarves or rags to cover their mouths, in a largely futile attempt to protect themselves from the caustic gas that singes the eyes, throats and lungs, and can even dissolve teeth.

Once the miners collect their sulfur, they haul the fully loaded baskets, weighing between 70 kg (150 lb.) and 90 kg (200 lb.), out from the crater, climbing 60-degree slopes, and then down to the base camp. They get 10,000 rupiah (78¢) for 10 kg (22 lb.) of sulfur. Suwono, 33, works four days a week, from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., to support his wife and son. Carrying 70 kg of sulfur twice a day earns him 140,000 rupiah ($11) — but it also comes with a price: Suwono has a disfigured back. Deformed spines and bent legs are disturbingly common among miners.

Such physically demanding and hazardous work means miners’ average life expectancy barely reaches 50 years. More than 70 people have died in work-related accidents at Kawah Ijen in the past four decades, many due to the toxic fumes that billow suddenly from the rock’s fissures.

Aware of the risks they face daily, the miners don’t want their children to follow in their footsteps. “They want to throw off the shackles of a destiny,” Gonzaga says, “for this reason, they push their kids to go to school and have an education.”

“Devil’s Gold” is part of a wider project called Invisible People, which is funded by Nando Peretti Foundation.

Luca Catalano Gonzaga is a photographer born in Rome. He co-founded Witness Image and focuses on covering human rights issues.

Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.

TIME Hong Kong

Abusive Employer Given Six Years in High-Profile Domestic Worker Case

Lo Wan-Tung Returns Home Amid Accusations Of The Abuse And Torture Of Two Indonesian Maids
Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images Police escort Law Wan-tung to her home for further investigation on Jan. 21, 2014, in Hong Kong

Judge Amanda Woodcock said “the defendant had no compassion"

A Hong Kong mother of two who criminally abused her Indonesian domestic helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, was sentenced to six years in prison on Friday, concluding a landmark case that drew international attention to the plight of Hong Kong’s foreign domestic workers.

Judge Amanda Woodcock said, “The defendant had no compassion for the people she considered beneath her. It is regrettable that such conduct, attitude and physical abuse is not rare.”

Law Wan-tung, 44, was also fined just under $2,000.

Earlier in February, Law was found guilty of 18 counts of abuse. Sentencing was extended because her lawyer filed for a psychological review, but no evidence of psychiatric disorder was found.

Tales of the “near daily abuse” suffered by Erwiana highlighted an international problem, with young women often leaving impoverished countries in Southeast Asia to seek out higher wages but finding themselves in vulnerable legal situations that allow agencies and employers to exercise “slavelike” employment practices.

In Erwiana’s case, she was hit so hard that her teeth fractured, had a vacuum-cleaner tube shoved down her mouth, and was starved, forcing her to escape and knock on a neighbor’s door at 2:30 a.m. to beg for help. She also never received a paycheck from Law.

The 24-year-old Erwiana was listed in the TIME 100 in 2014 for her eventual decision to speak up, despite threats made to her family by Law, and was present in court during sentencing.

Speaking afterward through an interpreter, she said, “I do hope this judgment will send a strong message to the Hong Kong government, and governments around the world, to treat migrant workers like human beings.” She added that she now planned to return to Indonesia to study.

Despite problems with illegal “placement fees” that subjugate helpers to debt bondage, a controversial law requiring workers to live with their employers (making them vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse) and multiple accounts of women working unlawful hours, Hong Kong has better legal protections than other countries where Southeast Asian foreign domestic workers are popular.

Nevertheless, in its State of the World’s Human Rights report released Thursday, Amnesty International said Hong Kong’s domestic workers were “heavily indebted” and castigated the Hong Kong government for failing “to properly monitor employment agencies.”

Judge Woodcock opined that abuses could also be curtailed “if domestic workers were not forced to live in employer’s houses.”

Widespread exploitation of domestic helpers in Asia has prompted Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to suggest that Indonesia should no longer send helpers abroad because “we should have some self-esteem and dignity.” However, the notion has been slammed by activists as unconstitutional.

TIME Bizarre

Indonesian Police Want To Stop Sales of Children’s Shirts Showing Pandas Mating

Giant Pandas Tian Tian And Yang Guang Ahead Of The 2014 Breeding Season
Jeff J Mitchell—Getty Images Tian Tian the female panda at Edinburgh zoo sits inside her enclosure on April 4, 2014

But it seems as if the "obscene" apparel might be a hoax

According to the Indonesian police, pandas mid-coitus is not an appropriate design for children’s t-shirts.

The public relations division of the force issued a Facebook appeal Wednesday asking anyone who knew about the circulation of these “obscene” shirts to report it to their nearest police station immediately. The post was accompanied by the following picture:

But, as local blog Coconuts Jakarta points out, the police may have been had. The photo the police posted reads “9gag.com” in the corner — a website that is famous for memes and photoshopped illustrations. Considering how often The Onion has fooled reporters and politicians alike, this wouldn’t be entirely out of the ordinary.

But, regardless, pandas engaging in the Kama Sutra probably isn’t something you’d want your children to wear

TIME Hong Kong

Guilty Verdict Handed Down in Landmark Domestic-Worker-Abuse Case

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih
Kin Cheung—AP Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, center, accompanied by her supporters, walks out from a court in Hong Kong on Feb. 10, 2015

The plight of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih shocked the world

A 44-year-old Hong Kong woman and mother of two was found guilty Tuesday of criminally abusing her Indonesian domestic helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, whom she beat, refused to pay and even starved.

The case, tried in a Hong Kong court, has drawn global attention to plight of women from countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, who leave home to work as domestics in other countries but are often vulnerable to abuse at the hands of unscrupulous employers.

Judge Amanda Woodcock described Erwiana as a “prisoner” of employer Law Wan-tung, who sent her home after eight months, emaciated, scarred and barely able to walk, and who threatened to have Erwiana’s family killed if she ever reported the abuse.

The 24-year-old Erwiana was listed in the TIME 100 in 2014 for her decision to speak up. The court heard that during her employment Law punched her so hard that her teeth fractured, shoved a vacuum-cleaner tube down her mouth and denied her food until she was forced to knock on a neighbor’s door at 2:30 a.m. to beg for help. Erwiana also never received a paycheck from Law.

“To employers in Hong Kong, I hope they will start treating migrant domestic workers as workers and human beings and stop treating us as slaves,” Erwiana said in a written statement after the verdict. “Because as human beings, we all have equal rights.”

If given the highest possible sentence, Law could receive up to seven years in prison, according to Detective Superintendent David Cameron of the Hong Kong police.

“The message is if you live in a society that can afford domestic helpers, they are still protected by the law and even if there are cultural differences they are still treated equally,” Cameron said.

Sentencing will be on Feb. 27.

With reporting by Yenni Kwok / Hong Kong

TIME Economy

5 Plunging Numbers That Explain the World This Week

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on before swearing in ceremony of the new deputies that were elected in the January 25 national polls, in Athens, Feb. 5,2015.
Yannis Behrakis—EPA Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens, Feb. 5,2015.

From Greek bond rates to Indonesian approval numbers, these figures tell the story of an unstable world

With spiraling oil prices, crumbling economies, weakened leaders, and intensifying violence in Ukraine and the Middle East, we’re experiencing unusual volatility in markets and geopolitics. Here are five falling numbers that have broad-reaching implications.

1. Down to 1.38%

There’s a huge difference between the current Greek crisis and previous cycles of panic: today bond markets are treating the Greek economy as an isolated patient, swatting away notions of contagion risk to other periphery countries. The numbers tell the story. In the wake of the anti-austerity party Syriza’s victory in Greek elections last month, Spain’s 10-year yield fell to new record-breaking lows, closing at a staggering 1.38% at one point last week. That means Spain can borrow at better rates than the thriving United States. Compare that to Greece’s 10-year yield, which shot above 11% in the days after Syriza took office.

(Source: Eurasia Group, Bloomberg Business: Spain, Greece)

2. -30% Approval

Expectations for Indonesia’s new president Joko Widodo were sky-high when he was elected last summer. (He even graced the cover of this publication in October with the headline “A New Hope.”) But his recent nominee for police chief is a former aide to party powerbroker and ex-president Megawati Sukarnoputri, raising concerns about her influence over the supposedly independent Joko. Just days after the announcement, police chief nominee was named as a suspect in a corruption probe. Joko’s decision to trim fuel subsidies in November was lauded by investors; after all, between 2009 and 2013, Indonesia spent more on such subsidies than it did on social welfare programs and infrastructure put together. But it’s no surprise that a hike in fuel prices didn’t go over as well with the general population. According to an opinion poll by LSI, Joko’s approval rating has dropped 30 points—from 72% in August to just 42% in January.

(Source: Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Financial Times)

3. -$58 per barrel

The price of Venezuelan oil collapsed from $96 in September to $38 last month. That’s not a good thing in a country where oil exports provide more than 95% of foreign exchange. Venezuela needs that hard currency—more than 70% of its consumer goods are imported. Things are getting bleaker. The International Monetary Fund predicts an economic contraction this year of as much as 7% of GDP. Inflation is over 60%. And an economic perk is coming under threat: Venezuelans enjoy the world’s cheapest gasoline, paying the heavily subsidized rate of roughly $0.06 per gallon. This provision costs the government more than $12 billion a year. In a recent speech, President Nicolas Maduro declared, “You can crucify me if you want, but there’s a need for us to go to a balanced price.” Given all the economic woes and the President’s tanking approval ratings, it’s definitely not the easiest time to rake back this subsidy.

(Brookings, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, International Business Times)

4. -$500,000,000 in military aid

With ISIS rampaging across Iraq and Syria—and Houthi rebels seizing the capital of Yemen and pushing that country into civil war—Saudi Arabia is accelerating its plans to wall itself off from volatile neighbors. In September, the Saudis began construction on a 600-mile wall along the border with Iraq. To the south, they are strengthening fortifications to keep unwanted visitors from breaching the 1,060-mile border with Yemen. Border guards told a CNN correspondent that in just the last three months, they have stopped 42,000 people from crossing a 500-mile section of the border. It’s not just about security—it’s also economic. As of 2013, Saudi citizens represented just 43% of the country’s workers—and only some 15% of the private sector—with the rest consisting of foreign workers. With youth unemployment at around 40% in Yemen, many try to cross in search of work. But even as the spending spree on security continues, the Saudi Kingdom is halting most of its financial aid for Yemen, fearful it could fall into Houthi hands. According to a Yemeni official, the Saudis recently refused to pay $500 million earmarked for military aid.

(Newsweek, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNN, Al Arabiya News, Reuters, Wall Street Journal)

5. -$61,000,000,000 … and -16%

They’re the group of Russians best equipped to weather hard times, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the burn. In 2014, the 21 wealthiest people in Russia lost a combined $61 billion—a quarter of their net fortune. Those who aren’t losing money are removing it: 2014’s net outflows by companies and banks topped $150 billion. That’s more than double the 2013 figure, and shatters the old record from ’08, amidst the financial crisis. The IMF expects the Russian economy to contract 3.5% in 2015. At least Russians can express their dismay while drinking more affordable liquor: this week, Moscow passed a new measure cutting the minimum price of a bottle of vodka by 16%.

(Reuters, Businessweek, IMF, Washington Post)

 

TIME indonesia

These Cities Have The Worst Traffic in the World, Says a New Index

INDONESIA-SOCIAL-TRAFFIC
BAY ISMOYO—AFP/Getty Images This picture taken on January 20, 2015 shows a gridlock in Jakarta's main road. Jakarta has just won the distinction of having the worlds worst traffic, according to a recent index.

And you thought your commute was bad?

Jakarta is the worst city in the world for traffic jams, according to new index created by motor oil company Castrol. Drivers in the Indonesian capital are stopping and starting their cars 33,240 times per year on the road, a Castrol study found.

Relying on information from TomTom navigation devices in 78 countries, the index used an algorithm to determine the number of times a car started and stopped per kilometer, then multiplied it by the average annual driving distance in the country.

After Jakarta, the worst cities for traffic jams are Istanbul, Turkey; Mexico City, Mexico; Surabaya, Indonesia; and St. Petersburg, Russia. No American cities appeared in the top ten.

Take a look at the entire list here.

Read next: 9 out of 10 Chinese Cities Fail Pollution Test

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TIME indonesia

Indonesia’s Jokowi Marks 100 Days of Presidency With Scandal, Falling Support

Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks to the media about AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in Sorong, West Papua,
Antara Photo Agency/Reuters Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, speaks to the media about AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 in Sorong, West Papua, on Dec. 28, 2014

Following a slew of public scandals and broken campaign promises, Indonesia's "new hope" is hemorrhaging support

On Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo wrote on his Facebook page: “Suro Diro Joyonirat Lebur Dening Pangastuti.” The Javanese words of wisdom teach that stubbornness, narrow-mindedness and anger can only be overcome by wisdom, kindness and patience.

Jokowi, as the President is popularly known, could use lots of wisdom and patience these days. His first 100 days in office — usually a peak of a leader’s approval ratings — have been marked with rising public disappointment and slipping popularity — not to mention a major political crisis he has largely created himself.

On Jan. 9, Jokowi shocked the nation when he nominated Budi Gunawan as police chief. Budi, a onetime adjutant to Megawati Sukarnoputri, former President and chairwoman of Jokowi’s party, PDI-P, and reportedly also close to Vice President Jusuf Kalla, had been investigated for months by the Corruption Eradication Agency. Days later, on Jan. 13, the agency, known in Bahasa Indonesia as KPK, named the three-star police general as a graft suspect in the so-called fat-bank-account case. Despite this, the divided parliament — seen as the most corrupt public institution in Indonesia, along with the police — was united to endorse Budi.

On Friday, the police made a stunning move, arresting the highly respected KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto. He was accused of inciting perjury when he was a lawyer representing regional politicians in a Constitutional Court case in 2010 — a trumped-up charge, say both KPK and civil-society figures. The news of the arrest, and images of an anticorruption official in handcuffs, sparked widespread anger, with citizens seeing it as another attempt by the police to weaken and intimidate the KPK. (In 2009, the police charged two KPK deputies with bribery; the Constitutional Court later ruled the charges were fabricated.) In the days that followed, the agency’s chief and its two other deputies were reported to police as well.

So far, Jokowi looks reluctant to take concrete steps to resolve the “gecko vs. crocodile” conflict, as the fight between the graft and crime busters has been dubbed. He gave in a little to public pressure by delaying Budi’s appointment and naming the deputy police chief as acting top cop. As the crisis mounted, he said on Sunday he would form an independent team — consisting of ex-KPK officials, a police general, a former Constitutional Court Justice and scholars — to advise him on the controversy. Otherwise, though, he has maintained a neutral stance, saying: “There shouldn’t be any crimininalization” and that both law-enforcement agencies should help each other.

Expectations were high when the former Solo mayor turned Jakarta governor was inaugurated as President on Oct. 20. The down-to-earth politician not only had pledged to push the badly needed economic and political reforms in the world’s fourth most populous nation — from removing red tape to fighting corruption — but also showed concerns on human rights. Jokowi, the first Indonesian President with no ties to the country’s political and military elite, is seen as “A New Hope,” as TIME’s cover said. The new elected leader, aware of Indonesia’s significance as the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, told U.S. President Barack Obama in November in Beijing: “The elections have shown that Islam and democracy can work hand in hand.”

But optimism has turned into skepticism. “One hundred days in and Jokowi is already embroiled in a complex political conflict that threatens his presidency and is entirely of his own making,” says Jacqui Baker, lecturer in Southeast Asian politics at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

Joko Widodo means “courageous man” in Javanese, and there were times when the former furniture businessman won kudos for showing decisive leadership. He was hands-on, swift and empathetic in handling the search-and-rescue efforts of the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late December. Economists heaped praise when he slashed fuel subsidies — a hot political issue that had led to riots in the past — and pledged to allocate the subsidy fund to finance infrastructure and welfare programs.

The 30% fuel-prices hike in November accelerated the inflation rate, however, and hurt his popularity. In a survey conducted in January, before the police-chief debacle, his approval rating stood at around 62%, down from nearly 75% in mid-October.

“The trend [of Jokowi’s popularity] is going down. He loses his shine,” says Burhanuddin Muhtadi, director of public affairs at pollster Lembaga Survei Indonesia, which conducted the surveys and will release the January results early next month.

It didn’t help that Jokowi had backed down from his campaign promise that he wouldn’t do any horse-trading, a fanciful notion to anyone familiar with Indonesia’s schismatic realpolitik. Being a political outsider, he needs support from the so-called party oligarchs — the political establishment who supports him, as reflected in his Cabinet lineup and other high-ranking appointments. Nearly half of his ministers are members of the political parties supporting him — Megawati’s daughter holds a senior Cabinet position — and his choices for Attorney General and police chief are linked with political patrons or their parties.

As it turns out, the President’s powerful backers are his major political liabilities. “Jokowi has revealed himself to be woefully hamstrung by his political allies, [Nasdem party chairman] Surya Paloh and Megawati — and their more experienced party machines,” adds Baker. “He is clearly outclassed and outmaneuvered.”

Despite the controversies, Jokowi has scored populist points through policies that draw out strong nationalist sentiments, such as destroying illegal foreign fishing boats that flout Indonesia’s maritime borders, and refusing to give clemency to drug traffickers on death row. On Jan. 18, Indonesia’s firing squads executed six convicted smugglers, five of whom were foreigners, sparking condemnation from human-rights activists and foreign leaders. Brazil and the Netherlands, whose citizens were among the dead, recalled their ambassadors in protest, while Nigeria summoned Jakarta’s envoy. The media in neighboring countries have similarly expressed dismay at Jokowi’s boat-burning policies.

“Jokowi has very few ways of asserting leadership,” Baker says. “Burning boats and executing drug traffickers are some of the few avenues left open to him.”

Even if Jokowi could get himself out of the “gecko vs. crocodile” controversy, his biggest political test yet to date, it may not be the last time that he is torn between the wish of his electorate and that of his political patrons. So far it’s the people who feel he is letting them down. Some of his biggest supporters have become his fiercest critics, and a few are already half-jesting about who else they should back in the next presidential election — and that does not bode well just three months in.

TIME Aviation

Search for AirAsia Wreckage Ends

INDONESIA-SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA-AVIATION-AIRASIA
Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images An Indonesian rescue helicopter flies over the Crest Onyx ship as divers (R in rubber boats) conduct operations to lift the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 in the Java Sea on January 9, 2015.

Searchers have found 70 of the 162 bodies

Indonesia’s military suspended a search effort for a downed AirAsia flight in the Java Sea on Tuesday, drawing to a close a 30-day effort to retrieve bodies from the wreckage.

“We apologize to the families of the victims,” Rear Adm. Widodo said, according to Reuters. “We tried our best to look for the missing victims.”

Divers with the Indonesian military have struggled against strong currents and murky water conditions to retrieve bodies from the wreckage site, submerged some 100 feet below sea level. Officials said they had retrieved 70 bodies to date from the wreckage site, and no bodies were known to remain in the fuselage, the New York Times reports.

The plane had 162 people on board when it crashed last month.

TIME indonesia

AirAsia Flight 8501 Climbed ‘Beyond Normal’ Speed, Officials Say

AirAsia aircraft tail storage is recovered
Denny Pohan—Demotix/Corbis AirAsia aircraft tail is recovered from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015, in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia

The plane reportedly climbed at 6,000 ft. per minute before stalling

An airplane that crashed in Indonesia late December was climbing at “beyond normal” speed before it pitched into the Java Sea, the country’s Transportation Minister said Tuesday.

Ignasius Jonan told a hearing into the AirAsia Flight 8501 crash that the plane stalled after climbing at 6,000 ft. per minute — faster than a fighter jet, the Jakarta Post reports. A total of 162 passengers and crew are believed dead.

“The average speed of a commercial aircraft is probably between 1,000 and 2,000 ft. per minute, because the aircraft is not designed to soar so fast,” he said.

The update comes a week after the recovery of the plane’s “black boxes,” a flight-data recorder and cockpit-voice recorder.

Investigators have ruled out terrorism after reviewing the black boxes and are considering human error, technical malfunction and inclement weather as possible causes for the steep climb and the crash.

[Jakarta Post]

Read next: Search Crews Locate Missing AirAsia Flight’s Fuselage

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