INDONESIA: Domestic Violence Continues Amid Calls for its Elimination

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The Jakarta Post
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Amid incessant campaigns to end violence against women, the abuse of women continues right in front of our eyes.

Just one day before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25, Septi, a housewife from Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, was reportedly dragged behind a motorcycle because the tea she made for her husband wasn't sweet enough.

Septi went to the Palmerah police station in West Jakarta to file a report against her husband, Untung, but her family persuaded her not to take any legal action against the man she married just eight months ago.

According to an officer from the West Jakarta Police's women and children protection unit, victims of domestic violence do not usually press charges against their abusers.

“It's because the perpetrators are their family members,” the officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

On Thursday in East Jakarta a man killed his wife, Narsih, after they had an argument. The police have not determined the man's motive because they are still looking for him.

Septi and Narsih's cases are but two examples of violence against women, but violence occurs not only in the home but outside of it as well.

One of the factors contributing to the rampant cases of violence against women are high stress levels living in big city like Jakarta, National Commission on Violence Against Women commissioner Neng Dara Affiah said.

“Living in Jakarta makes it easier for people to get stressed out due to economic competitiveness and tight living spaces,” Neng said.

Unfortunately, some people still think that they can channel their stress towards women since women are still considered lower than men, she said.

“Violence against women continues because women basically do not have an equal bargaining position with men,” she said.

This mostly applies to housewives who depend economically on their husbands, but women can also be abused by their bosses as they are subordinate to them.

“Most women that economically depend on their husbands cancel any legal process against them,” she said.

Yet the women who choose not report to abuse do not realize that their decision indirectly contributes to the continuation of violence against women.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) recorded 143,586 cases of violence in 2009, more than double the 54,425 cases reported in 2008.

The drastic increase has been attributed not to a rise in the actual number of cases, but to better data collection and more women reporting abuse.

In an attempt to end the violence in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the United Nations in Indonesia, in cooperation with the Women's Empowerment and Children Protection Ministry and Komnas Perempuan are holding an online competition aiming to prevent and eliminate violence against women and children.

The competition, themed “Dimulai dari saya” (It starts with me) kicked off on Nov. 25, and will continue until Dec. 10, which is Human Rights Day.

Their action aims to get men to participate in the cause as well.