The Struggle of Waria Buddies to Achieve Symbolic Capital in an Infectious Diseases Intermediate Care Unit in Indonesia


HIV/AIDS is a major health issue that has become the concern of various parties. Infection Diseases Intermediate Care Unit (Unit Pelayanan Intermediet Penyakit Infeksi or UPIPI) is a therapy and treatment unit for people with HIV and AIDS (Orang yang hidup dengan HIV/AIDS (ODHIV)) in Dr. Soetomo teaching hospital, Surabaya, that employed 2 waria(s) (Indonesian term for male transvestite (Boellstorff, 2004)) who plays important role as a buddies in ministering, supporting, educating ODHIV. Waria(s) involvement in public health service isn't common in Indonesia by reason of waria(s) negative stigma as a low class community and cheap sex worker. Using Bourdieu’s theory of practice as theoretical framework, this qualitative study evaluates waria(s) involvement in public health service and how UPIPI personnel respond to them. The study design includes participatory observation and in-depth interview data collection techniques. Upon completion of this study it is found that waria(s) involvement in UPIPI is initiated by goverment’s program to reach waria community in an HIV/AIDS prevention program. The unusual presence of waria buddies around the hospital is responded by the ODHIVs and physicians with generally slow acceptance to non affirmative attitudes. On the other hand, the buddy status brings relatively positive impacts on improving waria(s) life with the obtainment of various forms of capital: monthly income (economic capital); knowledge in caring and assisting ODHIV as well as better language skills (cultural capital); and network expansion benefits (social capital); which are significant to their attempt in gaining social acceptance, recognition as a humanitarian worker status (symbolic capital).

Author Information
Mira Adriani Permadi, Airlangga University of Surabaya, Indonesia

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2015
Stream: Gender studies / Feminist Theory

This paper is part of the ACCS2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon