Stand-up Comedians and Musicians Unite in Ending Violence against Women and Girls

“UNiTE” - a stand-up comedy and music concert to commemorate 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights Day


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Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan.
Seven Indonesian stand-up comedians performed at UNiTE event. The Comedy for Equality initiative was started last year by the UN in Indonesia to provide opportunities to 20 aspiring comedians to participate in five workshops on comedy for activism, mentored by multi-award-winning comedian Sakdiyah Ma'ruf. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

Jakarta, Indonesia — Some of Indonesia’s top stand-up comedians and music performers on Saturday banded together to voice their support to end gender-based violence in the country. The performance was the highlight of the “UNiTE” event at M Bloc Space, Jakarta, and marked the conclusion of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.

The “UNiTE” event was jointly organized by the Embassy of France, Institut Français Indonesia, UNDP, UNFPA, the UN Information Centre, UN Women and WHO, in collaboration with Komnas Perempuan and Jakarta Feminist. The one-day music and art festival aimed to mobilize public support, particularly among the youth to speak out against gender-based violence.

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan.
All-female band, The Dare, initiate "Dare to Fight Sexual Assault in Concert" to promote a safe space for women to enjoy music concerts. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

“Violence against women is unacceptable under any circumstances,” said UN Resident Coordinator for Indonesia Valerie Julliand. “We work closely with both the government and civil society organizations to combat gender-based violence, to change attitudes and at the same time support victims and survivors.”

Women in Indonesia, like many other countries, experience high levels of violence. According to Komnas Perempuan’s report, 338,496 cases of violence against women were recorded throughout 2021, about 50 per cent increase from cases reported in 2020 and higher than in 2019, when 302,686 cases were reported. For every case reported, many more remain hidden because of stigma, shame, and fear of the perpetrator, experts said.

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan.
Indonesian rapper, Yacko, sang "Hands Off" to tackle sexual harassment often faced by women. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

Komnas Perempuan's Annual Report 2022 noted that in the last five years, women experienced violence: 36% of them psychological violence, 33% sexual violence, 18% physical violence, and 13% economic violence. “According to this data, we can see how many experiences psychological violence,” said Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan, Mariana Amiruddin. “However, in Indonesia, support for psychological violence victims still lacks expertise and resources. This is why victims don't report the violence they experienced related to their mental condition.”

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan.
Rara Sekar (hara) performance at UNiTE event commemorating 16 Days of Activism and Human Rights Day. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

The "UNiTE" event featured live performances from music groups hara, The Dare, and Yacko. Under the Comedy for Equality showcase, it featured performances from six Indonesian comedians mentored by the multi-award-winning Indonesian comedian Sakdiyah Ma'ruf. The Comedy for Equality Initiative, started last year by the UN in Indonesia, provided opportunities to 20 aspiring comedians to participate in a stand-up comedy workshop led by Ms Ma'ruf. She helped each aspiring comedian craft routines that reflected humorously on gender inequalities, misogynistic stereotypes, and supported the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence initiative.

“Comedy may not change attitudes directly but can bring about change by allowing open conversations on sensitive topics and helps debunk stigma and stereotypes," said Ms Ma'ruf. "The Comedy for Equality initiative provides a safe platform for women and men to speak up, including on violence against women.”

“Art, including music, is a medium of knowledge. Consciously or unconsciously, music has become part of society to deliver messages, values, and feelings, and musicians stand on social issues. Music is an important medium to raise awareness of violence against women, the importance of ending violence against women, to build empathy, solidarity, and collective action to stop violence against women. Music is always bound by space—such as concerts. Concerts provide an opportunity to reach more people and strengthen one another,” Rara Sekar.

“Education, and the power of victims who stand up and tell their story, as we saw with the #MeToo movement, have more impact on society than national policies on their own. That is why we are proud today to partner up with Sakdiyah, and six other wonderful female comedians, as well as Rara Sekar (hara), the Dare and Yacko. By being vocal about gender equality and against gender-based violence, they are powerful actors of social change,” said Stéphane Dovert, Director of IFI and Counsellor for Cooperation of the French Embassy in Indonesia.


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