Use of Language and Imposition of Sanctions: How Marginalized Communities Promote Behavioral Change Amid the Pandemic

Denok is one of the 75 LeaN On caseworkers who are conducting outreach to educate the community on the pandemic’s risks since late October 2020 in Surabaya City, East Java. As a staff member of the Surabaya Trans Women Association (PERWAKOS), Denok actively takes part in a number of programs that drive positive impacts for members of her community. Denok recognizes the need for information concerning the risk of the pandemic among trans women in the City of Heroes so she joins LeaN On as a caseworker to her peers.

Denok shares pointers with fellow caseworkers on the strategies that she applies within the PERWAKOS community to promote adherence to COVID-19 prevention in her community based on her long experience in HIV/AIDS risk-communications. She underlined two aspects, i.e., the use of everyday language that the target community is familiar with and the imposition of community-based sanctions for members who violate health protocols.

Denok when delivering risk information and prevention education to members of the transgender community in Surabaya, East Java

Denok also follows what other trans women caseworkers did under the PLATO Foundation and ASB Indonesia-Philippines supervision. She translates materials on risk information, education on COVID-19 prevention, and inquiries for outreach reporting into everyday language that is easier for the Surabaya trans women community to digest.

“My target group is trans women. As far as I know, most members of my community are from low and middle-income households. Therefore, it would not be easy for them to comprehend if we communicate in a formal language. That is why we try to translate the information into a casual conversation,” said Denok during a learning session held by LeaN On in early January 2021.

Denok ensures her COVID-19 risk-communication is casual, but at the same time, she also promotes the community-based sanctions set by PERWAKOS to cultivate discipline among members of the trans women community in practicing the health protocols. In concert with several community-based organizations in Surabaya, PERWAKOS affirmed its commitment not to assist members caught in raids if they violated the health protocols. PERWAKOS found the strategy to be effective.

The wise use of colloquial expressions coupled with enforcement of community-based sanctions demonstrates that persistent peer-outreach to communicate pandemic risks is powerful to engage marginalized members of society in COVID-19 transmission prevention.

LeaN On by INVEST DM is an inclusive RCCE program that aims to provide access to risk information and education on COVID-19 prevention, including information on available social protection services, for 165 thousand people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in seven regions in Indonesia. This program is supported by the American people through USAID, and in partnership with BNPB, Kemenkumham, MAJu (The Asia Foundation) and a consortium of partners consisting of Mercy Corps Indonesia, ASB, ThisAble, Human Initiative and AtmaConnect.

LeaN On by INVEST DM is a USAID funded COVID-19 risk communications & engagement of people with disabilities & vulnerable groups in seven regencies in Indonesia

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