Indonesia Under Fire for ‘HIV-Free’ Scholarship

Indonesia Under Fire for ‘HIV-Free’ Scholarship
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An estimated 690,000 people were living with HIV in Indonesia in 2015, including 17,000 children.

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The Indonesian government has been slammed for requiring applicants for a scholarship program be “HIV-free.”

In a booklet issued by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP), applicants for the Eastern Indonesia Scholarship Programme are told to enclose a letter from healthcare providers stating that they are free from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and drug use, a Jakarta-based community legal aid institute says.

“Such requirement is a direct discrimination against and violation of the right to education of people living with HIV/AIDS, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, and Indonesian regulations and laws,” says the organization, Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Masyarakat (LBH Masyarakat).

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The group says that as education is an indispensable means of realizing other human rights, the prohibition against discrimination on the right to education “is subject to neither progressive realization nor the availability of resources; it applies fully and immediately to all aspect of education.”

“The government of Indonesia, therefore, has no justification whatsoever to apply such requirement,” LBH Masyarakat says.

Local sources say the Indonesian government has yet to respond to the complaint. However, the organization plans to send an official letter to the government today.

Independent broadsheet the Jakarta Post reported on Jan. 31 that a team of more than 20 experts from Indonesia and abroad have been looking into local laws related to HIV. They found a number of discriminatory regulations, particularly at local government level, were reinforcing stereotypes about HIV/AIDS and curtailing efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 690,000 people were living with HIV in Indonesia in 2015, including 17,000 children; there were 35,000 deaths due to AIDS that year.

Editor: Olivia Yang