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Indonesia's fashion cops stop traffic

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Courtesy of Sara Schonhardt

(Read caption) (L. to r.) Eny Regama, Avvy Olivia Atam, and Eka Yulianti.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Indonesia’s police force got a face-lift this year. Eny Regama, Avvy Olivia Atam, and Eka Yulianti, who might seem more at home on a fashion catwalk than in a congested street, deliver a daily traffic report for the morning and evening news. Between 6 and 8 a.m. they police the traffic a city of 9.6 million that recorded 31,000 traffic accidents last year.

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The three women say they help reinstill trust in an institution that the public considers corrupt and serve as role models for girls.

“This is one way of building a good relationship between police and people,” says Ms. Atam, armed with perfectly coiffed hair and rose-pink cheeks.

That means being firm but friendly, adds Ms. Yulianti, who worked in the Narcotics Division when she first joined the police squad in 2006. Despite their delicate looks, the women say they’ve earned their badges through tough training and experience.

“If we respond to people sharply, they will react in kind,” says Yulianti.

Indonesia created its traffic monitoring division in 2010. Roughly 30 percent of those 17,000 traffic officers are women.

The public appearances of Atam, Yulianti, and Ms. Regama have garnered some fame – the three recently appeared in uniform on a popular cooking show. They say being seen in their signature khaki is important.

“Sometimes people don’t believe we’re policewomen,” says Atam. For the most part, though, their public awareness campaign to make streets safer seems to be taking hold.


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