Finland expresses its gratitude for contributions to equality with special recognition – Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation from Indonesia among the recipients

Jakarta, 11 July 2019

 Finland places great significance on promoting equality in the world, and wishes to thank those who are working towards this common goal. To express its gratitude, Finland is presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the globe. The names of the first recipients from 17 countries are released, with one of the honours going to Indonesian Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation.

 

Equality is a core value for Finland and its people. To highlight the importance of equality and to show gratitude for the valuable work that is being done to advance equality in society, Finland is presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the world. Finland aims to encourage conversation about equality and promote initiatives for a more inclusive society.

 

Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation is a research institution aiming to empower women, children and marginalized groups in Indonesia. It pursues an equal society by shedding light on discriminating social and religious structures through advocacy, education and awareness building. It is led by Ms. Lies Marcoes-Natsir, an expert in the fields of women’s rights, reproductive health and gender in Islam.

 

“We are thankful for this Hän Honour that recognises our humanitarian work, the importance of equality among people and the acceptance of diversity of ethnicities, races, religions and genders. For Rumah Kita Bersama, the recognition serves as a motivation to work even more actively in the community”, said Lies Marcoes-Natsir, on receiving the Hän Honour at the Embassy of Finland in Jakarta on 11 July 2019.

 

“Rumah Kita Bersama’s work encapsulates very well the meaning of this equality campaign”, said Ambassador Jari Sinkari at the recognition ceremony. “Hän” is the neutral 3rd-person singular pronoun in Finnish language and the symbol of the campaign as it stands for equal opportunity.

 

Among other recipients of the recognition are individuals and groups from for example Singapore, Croatia, Namibia, Norway and Japan. They represent a range of fields, including education, minority rights and gender equality.

 

The recognition forms part of a broader campaign about equality, launched in June 2019 and continuing until the end of the year. Finland aims to bring questions of equality to the fore of the international conversation.

 

In 2017, the year Finland celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence, it promoted action around the world in the name of gender equality and launched the first International Gender Equality Prize. The prize will be awarded for the second time in 2019.

 

List of recognition recipients: https://finland.fi/han/#Han_honours
Finland’s equality campaign website: www.finland.fi/han

Rumah Kita Bersama website: https://rumahkitab.com/en/

IGEP: https://genderequalityprize.fi/en

DISCUSSION OF BOOK ON FIKIH ON GUARDIANSHIP: RE-READING THE RIGHTS OF GUARDIANSHIP FOR PROTECTION OF WOMEN

Qiwamah and Wilayah Column:

[Over the next several months, this Qiwamah and Wilayah Column will appear in the Rumah Kita Bersama website. As well as reporting on the Roadshow for outreach on the book conducted in several cities, this column will try to reach a broader range of readers. Therefore, this column is presented in both Indonesian and English. This column is published four times, in cooperation with the Oslo Coalition]

 

Jakarta, 25 June 2019

Unchaining Fiqh from the Manacle of Asymmetric Relations in Gender’s Construction

JAKARTA. On Tuesday, 25 June 2019, Rumah Kita Bersama launched the book Fikih on Guardianship: Re-Reading the Rights of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Forced Marriage and Child Marriage. This book is the outcome of a study on classical and modern texts on the concepts of wilayah and qiwamah together with various religious figures, sociologists, anthropologists, legal experts, and activists conducted over several months.

This event took place in the hall of Griya Gus Dur at the Wahid Foundation, Menteng, Central Jakarta. The event was attended by sixty participants from various institutions: NGO activists, representatives of the government such as from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Supreme Court, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Ministry for Women’s Empowerment, Commission for Prevention of Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), Commission for Protection of Children (Komnas Perlindungan Anak), university lecturers and students, and the media. Also in attendance were three representatives of the Oslo Coalition, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights: Dr. Lena Larsen (the Director of the Oslo Coalition, one out of six thematic areas at the Norwegian Center Department), Prof. Dr. Nelly Van Doorn, and Kathrine Raadim (the Director of International Department at Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo).

To discuss the book, Rumah Kita Bersama invited four resource persons: Dr (CH) KH. Husein Muhammad (head of Pesantren Dar at-Tauhid, Cirebon and former commissioner of Komnas Perempuan), Nursyahbani Katjasungkana SH (women’s activist from LBH Apik Jakarta), Drs. Mohammad Noor SH, MH, (Judicial Judge of the Legal Bureau and concurrently Public Relations officer of the Indonesian Supreme Court), and Ulil Abshar Abdalla MA (young intellectual from Nahdlatul Ulama). The event was led by Lies Marcoes-Natsir MA from Rumah Kita Bersama.

In her introduction, Lies Marcoes noted that normatively, Islam places the values of equality of men and women as a principal value, but in terms of fikih law – where the law regarding social relationships within the family is constructed – the relations between males and females are placed asymmetrically.  In the concepts of fikih, the relations between these two genders are linked in ways that are slanted or imbalanced. Nevertheless, this asymmetrical construct is (often) considered to be certain, fixed, and immutable, or qath’i. In reality, these asymmetrical relations are not always accepted, even by the fuqaha themselves. This can be seen from their interpretations, which very obviously seek to achieve a fairer balance in the relationship. In the book, many figures are presented, including some from the Middle East such as Rif’at Thohtowi, Qasim Amin and Muhammad Abduh. From within Indonesia, the book presents the ideas of Kiai Salah Mahfud with his social fikih, as well as breakthroughs by religious court judges in the Supreme court as exemplified by figures such as Prof. Hasybi Asydidiqie, Prof. Hazairin, and Andi Syamsu Alam SH. They offer new ideas, in terms of both methodology and interpretation, on family law and on how these methods can be applied in court hearings.

Many people assume that Islamic law is whatever is set out in the fikih. In fact, according to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, Islamic law is not just what is stated in the (books of) fikih, though fikih is one part of the big picture.

Meanwhile, Nursyahbani Katjasungkana stated that the concept of guardianship in Islamic law differs from the concept of guardianship in both the Civil Code and the Marriage Law. In both those laws, women are allowed to serve as guardians; something that is very different from the concepts of qiwamah and wilayah found in the book. Nursyahbani also noted that this asymmetry occurs not only in fikih, but also in the Laws on Islamic family law, such as in the Marriage Law, which states that the man is the head of the household and the woman is a housewife. This indicates that the Marriage Law does not refer to international law or conventions such as CEDAW.

Another problem, as noted by Kiai Husein Muhammad, is that to date men have been at the center of the lawmakers, and they enjoy luxury in many aspects, including in the issues of wilayah and qiwamah. This process of granting luxury to men, according to Kiai Husein Muhammad, is not solely a form of delegation of rights based on gender due to descent or to relations that arise from the occurrence of a legal event, such as marriage, but is instead related mainly to the man’s responsibility and obligation to protect the rights of the children or the wife. In other words, this is a gender construct relating to the obligations and responsibilities of men, and not simply about rights.

Unfortunately, this kind of reading that emphasizes the aspect of obligations, rather than rights, is not very popular in the community. The fikih that we currently use, Kiai Husein Muhammad explained, is a product of medieval Arabic culture, which granted greater leeway to men based on their situation and condition. Methodologically, there are certain principles that should be upheld throughout the ages: the humanitarian ideals of Islam, the ideals that place males and females on an equal standing as humans. Since the death of the Prophet Muhammad, nearly all religious teachings are interpretations. And interpretations are closely linked to time and space, so the interpretations of religious texts, even (interpretations) of the hadith of the Prophet, are products of culture, while in fact they (should) constantly refer to the ideals of Islam.

To achieve a reading of religious texts that is fair to both women and men, a new methodology is needed – a method that is willing to read the changing reality in society. Women nowadays are better educated and more self-reliant. Consequently, a method for reading texts is needed that is friendlier and more sensitive toward women. In this way, the texts will be able to read the special needs of women, which have to date been covered up by the misogynistic power of the texts.

Such efforts are often accused of being a Western agenda that promotes immorality. Lena Larsen said that this egalitarian approach that is undertaken in rereading the concepts of qiwamah and wilayah does not promote immorality. Rather, these efforts are simply to protect the family, especially children and wives, who are vulnerable to unjust treatment.

The efforts to perform reconstruction or deconstruction of texts are not easy. Over many centuries, the existing theological ideas and interpretations have become sacralized. Thus, a significant investment of time and thinking is needed in this regard. But this does not mean it is impossible.

One of the initiatives that has been undertaken by Rumah Kita Bersama is the publication of the book Fikih on Guardianship: Re-reading the Rights of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Forced Marriage and Child Marriage. Muhammad Noor says that this book produced by Rumah Kita Bersama is important. In his opinion, this book can be used as a reference by judges and those who provide direct support to the community in handling cases of family law, especially child marriage and forced marriage. (Aida, Lies)

Finland expresses its gratitude for contributions to equality with special recognition – Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation from Indonesia among the recipients

Finland places great significance on promoting equality in the world, and wishes to thank those who are working towards this common goal. To express its gratitude, Finland will be presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the globe who are committed to advancing inclusivity in society. The names of the first recipients from 16 countries were released today, with one of the honours going to Indonesian Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation.

Equality is a core value for Finland and its people. To highlight the importance of equality and to show gratitude for the valuable work that is being done to advance equality in society, Finland will be presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the world. Finland aims to encourage conversation about equality and promote initiatives for a more inclusive society.

Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation (Rumah KitaB) is a research institution aiming to empower women, children and marginalized groups in Indonesia. It pursues an equal society by shedding light on discriminating social and religious structures through advocacy, education and awareness building. It is led by Ms. Lies Marcoes Natsir, an independent consultant and expert in the fields of women’s rights, reproductive health, and gender in Islam.

Among other recipients of the recognition are individuals and groups from Singapore, Croatia, Namibia, Norway and Japan. They represent a range of fields, including education, minority rights and gender equality. The full list of the first recipients and more info about why they were selected are available at: https://finland.fi/han/#Han_honours.

The recognition forms part of a broader campaign about equality, launched in June 2019 and continuing until the end of the year. Finland aims to bring questions of equality to the fore of the international conversation.

In 2017, the year Finland celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence, it promoted action around the world in the name of gender equality and launched the first International Gender Equality Prize. The prize will be awarded for the second time later this year.

 

List of recognition recipients: https://finland.fi/han/#Han_honours
Finland’s equality campaign website: www.finland.fi/han
​​​​Rumah Kita Bersama website: https://rumahkitab.com/en/
IGEP: https://genderequalityprize.fi/en

 

Source: https://finlandabroad.fi/web/idn/current-affairs/-/asset_publisher/h5w4iTUJhNne/content/finland-expresses-its-gratitude-for-contributions-to-equality-with-special-recognition-rumah-kita-bersama-foundation-from-indonesia-among-the-recipi-1/384951

New York ends child marriage, raising age of consent from 14 to 18

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed legislation putting an end to child marriage in the Empire State.

The legislation raises the age of consent from 14 to 18, and amends the process to require parental and judicial consent for marriage involving 17- and 18-year-olds, CBS New York reports.

“This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a news release.

According to a 2016 report from the Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit that protects immigrant women and girls, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, North Carolina and Alaska also allow 14-year-olds to marry with parental and judicial consent.

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/why-is-it-so-hard-to-end-child-marriage/

Twenty-seven states have no minimum age for marriage in state law, meaning children of any age could technically marry with court approval.

New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who sponsored the legislation, said children have no escape from forced marriages because minors have limited access to legal services and domestic violence shelters.

The previous law, which dates back to 1929, did not provide any guidance to judges on whether to grant consent, Cuomo’s office said.

“We cannot solve the child marriage problem globally if we don’t first solve it here in the United States,” Fraidy Reiss, founder and executive director of the organization Unchained at Lasttold CBS News in May.

Health department data shows that between 2000 and 2010, 3,853 minors were married in New York. Eighty-four percent were minor girls married to adult men.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-york-ends-child-marriage-raising-age-of-consent-from-14-to-18/?fbclid=IwAR0IMx7wlmUibnR4qeCS1NgHLOCM0zc1yoDHeSt-MAd2JJS3XvSGPk3Rcnw

Child Marriage in Indonesia: Resolving an Issue

by Lies Marcoes and Fadilla Dwianti Putri

Child marriage is a form of violence against women and girls, as it deprives them of their rights to education, healthcare, and freedom from violence, among others. Indonesia has committed to end child marriage in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

However, as of 2016, it is estimated that one in nine girls in Indonesia will marry before the age of eighteen1 and, due to its large population, the country is among the ten countries worldwide with the highest absolute number of girls married while underaged.2

The Issues
The research on child marriage in Sumenep Regency, Madura, East Java undertaken by Rumah KitaB3 in 2015 shows that close to 70 percent of the people in the regency got married before the age of eighteen. The district of Dungkek in the regency had the highest number of child marriage, with about 80 percent of its nearly four thousand people – as per national population records in 2015 – having married as children.

The research also reveals that child marriage is caused by different factors and circumstances. But there is one common factor that led to it – either the complete absence of parental guidance due to migration, or weakened family structures resulting from divorce or pressures related to survival in the face of poverty.

Another research conducted in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara province involving four girls (identified as Rita, Ida, Vera and Idawati)4 reveals the significant roles played by religious and community leaders in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. Young couples who eloped (merariq) are urged by these leaders to marry immediately, and insist that marriage is the only solution to the situation to prevent shame on the whole village. The community has a strong culture of shame. It recognizes the religious and community leaders as custodians of customary rules. These customs are reinforced by Islamic religious values that add greater pressure to eloping young couples to marry.

Unmarried girls who eloped and failed to immediately marry are subject to social pressure including gossip and ridicule. They would be referred to as mayung bakat (literally meaning “injured deer”), dedare toaq/mosot (old spinsters) or “tainted” and thus a disgrace to the family. Boys on the other hand are not subject to these social mores.

For girls who get pregnant, religious values require marriage in order to have the names of both parents listed on the child’s birth certificate. According to Islam, the relationship of a child to the father can exist once ijab qabul (exchange of marriage vows) has occurred. Outside of marriage, the child would only be officially related to the mother.

Girls who marry early are forced to bear the financial burden of their households through informal work, and not allowed to continue their education (but the boys continue their study). Many are forced to raise children alone (as in the cases of Rita and Ida). Child marriage is also associated with the high divorce rate in Lombok. Being psychologically ill-equipped at such young age to deal with marriage and economic pressures, many child marriages lead to divorce within one year.

ChildMarriage-1s.jpg

ChildMarriage-2s.jpg

Wedding reception in Lombok (Photos by Morenk Beladro)

Health and Child Marriage
Studies on child marriages often refer to the impact of underage marriage on women’s reproductive health. From the four case studies in Lombok, three of the girls experienced adverse effects on their reproductive health. One showed signs of anemia during her pregnancy, and another experienced bleeding due to an underdeveloped uterus. A third one was administered contraception at a very young age. 80 percent of teens in Lombok suffer from anemia, a condition affecting the uterus and nutrient supply to an unborn child. This poses risks during and after (postpartum) birth. Furthermore, the impacts of child marriage on reproductive health are not limited to physical health, but also to the psychological health of the girls who have not yet reached a level of maturity required to raise a child.

The 2013 data from Lombok, show the mortality rate of women as shown in the table below.

Number of Maternal Mortality in Lombok in 2013
Pre-natal Natal Post-Natal Amount
Mataram 3 2 9 [14]
East Lombok 10 0 25 35
Central Lombok 1 3 16 20
West Lombok 4 3 3 10
North Lombok 0 0 2 2
Total [81]

(Source:West Nusa Tenggara(NTB)Statistics Office5)

The Lombok statistics show that the highest rate of maternal mortality occur at the post-natal phase. The leading causes of maternal mortality in Lombok are bleeding, infection, complications associated with heavy workloads following birth, and poor health and sanitation facilities.

Infant mortality, on the other hand, usually occurs when infants are around one month old, and two-thirds of the cases occur when infants are around one week old. The West Lombok Health Department sees low birth weight, often related to the physical and mental condition of young, ill-prepared mothers, as the biggest factor for infant mortality. These factors also relate to the high rate of maternal mortality in Lombok, especially when a mother’s reproductive organ is not yet fully mature.

Measures to Address Child Marriage and Health Problems
The Indonesian Marriage Law of 1974 provides that a girl of at least sixteen years of age can marry with parental consent. But the Law on Child Protection of 2002 defines a person under the age of eighteen as a child regardless of gender. The conflict between the two laws was brought to court. On 13 December 2018, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia issued an order declaring the provision of the Indonesian Marriage Law of 1974 on marrying age for girls unconstitutional and discriminatory against girls. It also considered this legal provision as against the law on child protection.6

But the question remains, how can child marriage be stopped at the level of the community? The people know the law on marriage and in a number of cases prevented the application of the law by using the traditional marriage system to allow child marriage,7 or by using the legal process with falsified documents on their age.

Of the four case studies examined in the research, it is clear that there is a link between child marriage, social change and cultural stagnation in terms of the application of merariq in Lombok’s case or fear of becoming an “old spinster”8 in other cases.9 Due to the absence of parental guidance and support, low levels of maturity and education, the girls agreed to marry. They viewed marriage as a solution to the problems they faced at home. Social and institutional pressures and the strict application of cultural traditions by community and religious leaders make it difficult for girls like Rita and Vera to be allowed to continue their schooling and postpone marriage until they are physically, emotionally and psychologically more equipped to deal with the pressures of marriage and raising a family. The case of Vera (who continued her study after marriage) however is a clear example of how intervention by legal aid providers and provincial and district legal institutions can lead to much better outcomes for girls particularly in relation to education.

Therefore, besides working at the national level to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls, working together with formal and non-formal institutions at the community level is crucial since these institutions are the “gatekeepers” who have power to allow and, at the same time, to prevent child marriage at the community level.

Lies Marcoes is the Executive Director while Fadilla D. Putri is the Program Manager of Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama. 

For further information, please contact: Lies Marcoes  and  Fadilla D. Putri, Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama (Rumah KitaB), Rawa Bambu I, Blok B/7, Pasar Minggu, Jakarta 12520 Indonesia; ph (6221) 7803440, 778837997; e-mail: official[a]rumahkitab.com; www.rumahkitab.com .

*This article is largely based on the 2015 report of the authors entitled Child Marriage and the Phenomenon of Social Orphans in Lombok, Rumah Kita Bersama and Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice, and the 2016 report entitled Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, April 2016. More recent documents supplemented the discussion from these reports.

Endnotes

1 UNICEF Indonesia Factsheet: Child Marriage in Indonesia, 2017.

2 UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2017.

3 Lies Marcoes and Fadilla Dwianti Putri, Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, April 2016.

4 The four women in the case studies were identified through consultation with local activists, government officials and community members. The interviews were held after getting the approval of the woman, her parents and village leadership.

5 Lies Marcoes and Fadilla Dwianti Putri, Child Marriage and the Phenomenon of Social Orphans in Lombok, Rumah Kita Bersama and Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice, 2015, page 4.

6 See Agustinus Beo Da Costa, “Court ruling brings Indonesia closer to ending child marriage: campaigners,” Reuters, www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-women-marriage/court-ruling-brings-indonesia-closer-to-ending-child-marriage-campaigners-idUSKBN1OC1CM 

7 See discussion on role of institutions in Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, op. cit.

8 Translated from the Indonesian language “perawan tua.”

9 Marcoes and Putri, Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, op. cit.

My mother died because my father killed her. Full stop.

I watched as my father hammered multiple bullets into my mother’s flesh. In that moment, the world I knew completely vanished from existence.

By

Nour Naas

My mother was planning on leaving my father, and he knew it. Three days after my high school graduation in 2013, I watched as my father hammered multiple bullets into my mother’s flesh. In that moment, the world I knew completely vanished from existence.

Within minutes of her murder, the police arrived on scene. Upon demanding that my father surrender his gun, he aimed it at the responding officer and was fatally shot.

My mother lost her life to domestic violence homicide in 2013. As a Muslim immigrant, my mother’s strongest roots were with the Muslim community; for that precise reason, I expected the most support to come from community members and leaders. I quickly learned, however, that the culture even in this most intimate setting was no different than the culture outside of it.

In the wake of her death, I was told by my mother’s friends that she should have listened to my father, that she should have been more compassionate with him, that she should have left, that she should have been more patient.

In the wake of her death, I was told by my mother’s friends that she should have listened to my father, that she should have been more compassionate with him, that she should have left, that she should have been more patient.

What continues to outrage me is the fact that my mother continues to be held accountable for her own murder. Friends of my parents would pin the responsibility on her, while demanding me to be silent about my father’s actions. This pattern made it clear to me that their refusal to acknowledge my father’s crimes has nothing to do with respect, as many of them claim. If it was about respect at all, my mother would have been afforded the same.

But my mother did not die because she did not listen to my father. She did not die because she did not dress the way my father wanted her to. She did not die because she chose not to go to a shelter. She did not die because she did not give my father enough attention. She did not die because she filed a police report against my father once. She did not die because she returned to my father the first time she left him. She did not die because she was not patient enough. She did not die because she talked back. She did not die because she chose to resist in whatever ways she knew how.

My mother died because my father killed her.

nour

Nour Naas.

My mother, Nadia, was a remarkable woman. She was well known in the community for her cooking, a skill she inherited from her own mother. Her cooking and gardening were the two constants in her life. At the height of her suffering, she continued to carve out time to care for and to nurture the lives of those around her. Even as my father pressured her into isolation, even in the face of all that she had lost, her capacity to give made me marvel.

Growing up in an abusive household made me restless. The first time my father hit my mother was in February 2009. The days following the incident, my father began making more and more peculiar demands of us. The most vivid included meeting him promptly at the front door once he got home from work each night. He expected not to have to knock or use his own key. He wanted the world to revolve around him. Mine certainly did. For weeks, the closer it got to 6pm, the more my fear swelled. I would sit by the door, heart pounding, and stare out the window to await his arrival. When I opened up the door for him each night, like clockwork, I would greet him with a smile and hug him.

The more time that passed, and the more abuse I was exposed to, the easier it became to testify – even if only to myself – that I no longer loved my father. I wondered what had happened to him. I would daydream about preparing the suitcase nestled in the corner of the room that my mother and I shared, and leaving with her and my brothers in the middle of the night.

The abuse carried on for years, until the week that I finally graduated from high school. My mother was planning on leaving my father, and he knew it. Three days after graduation, I watched as my father hammered multiple bullets into my mother’s flesh. In that moment, the world I knew completely vanished from existence.

It was so difficult to watch my mother suffer. Even though the abuse affected us all, my mother bore the brunt of it. I watched as she and the rest of us became more and more isolated from the community. The community iftars during Ramadan we had regularly attended growing up, we began to avoid. My father would gossip about my mother to people within the Muslim community – and when my father talked, people listened.

The abuse carried on for years, until the week that I finally graduated from high school.

When the coroner released her body four days later, we had the Islamic janazah funeral for both my parents. During the khutbah, the imam stated to the entire congregation that, had my mother listened to my father, this would not have happened. I spent most of my time holding back tears, stifling my anger, my rage, running away from the guilt I carried from being there that afternoon but being unable to stop what was happening.

I didn’t know how to encounter grief. My community didn’t seem to know how to, either. For a long time, whatever way I chose to express my emotions was discouraged. The day my mother died, I sat crying on the couch of an aunt’s home and was told to be strong, that my mother wouldn’t want to see me crying. I was told that the more I cry, the more my parents will suffer in the hellfire. When I expressed anger at what my father did, I was told I needed to forgive him.

I was told that the more I cry, the more my parents will suffer in the hellfire. When I expressed anger at what my father did, I was told I needed to forgive him.

My father was given an esteem that was not extended to my mother. She was often blamed for my father’s decisions. And because so many people minimised what happened, because so many people around me discouraged my right to be human, to feel pain, nothing felt normal to me anymore. I became desperate for a sort of blueprint. I spent so many hours googling, searching for my people, for kids like me, brown kids, first-generation kids, Muslim kids, who lost their mother to domestic violence. How were they handling it? Did they cry, too? Did they also lie in bed and whisper to their mothers in the quiet of the night? Did they also look for someone like themselves? Someone like me? I was desperate to know, simply, that I was not alone.

I found no one.

I was thrown into a depression that presented me with severe mood swings. I lost myself in my own body. The days of me swallowing my rage and heartache turned into years. I spent the six months following her death in shock, mostly. I was in so much shock, in fact, that I could hardly feel anything at all. But once my numbness subsided, I was thrown into a violent awakening. I spent most of my days not eating, or drinking. My hair fell out in clumps. I ended up getting fired from a job that I had somehow managed to hold down for one year, then dropped out of college and left the country in hopes of distracting myself enough to forget my own trauma.

It took me almost a year to come back to Vallejo in San Francisco’s Bay area. It was my home city and I had grown to detest it because it was where I had lost so much. It was the city that uprooted me. But when I returned last spring, the city felt better, softer. I came back to make it in time for a domestic violence training in Oakland, which was a life-changing experience. I am currently taking separate domestic violence training with the San Francisco Asian Women’s Shelter.

The days of me swallowing my rage and heartache turned into years. I spent the six months following her death in shock, mostly. I was in so much shock, in fact, that I could hardly feel anything at all

The same year my mother died at least 1,615 other women in the United States did as well. Now, almost five years since my mother was killed, I am realising how the work I do around eradicating patriarchal violence has become like a sort of shield for me. It is a way to divert from the reality of my mother’s homicide. It is the only space, truthfully, that I have so far been able to talk about her death and the grief I inherited in a way that I deem as empowering to others, and myself.

The perfect victim has not, does not, and will never exist. Women are asked to be silent. We are expected to be obedient. We are scolded for being defiant, or for not being defiant at all.

Women, particularly those who speak out about their abuse, are oftentimes subjected to scrutiny and skepticism. They will inevitably be asked at some point or another, “Why didn’t you just leave?” Friends will, more often than not, proclaim how they would have left the second a hand was laid on them. The authenticity of a victim’s claims will be inspected – and routinely rejected – based on a litany of criteria such as her attire, how late she was out, or what kind of a wife or mother she was.

During the khutbah, the Imam stated to the entire congregation that, had my mother listened to my father, this would not have happened.

This standardisation of victimhood does a couple of things. For one, it pressures victims of patriarchal violence to remain silent about their suffering because it has been proven, time and again, that they will not be believed. Secondly, it continues to strengthen a society in which violence against women is condoned and encouraged because victims of violence will never be deemed as such to begin with; rather, the violence against them will be justified in both overt and insidious ways.

This cultural phenomenon, known as victim-blaming, is a tool that is used to perpetuate patriarchy and patriarchal violence against women. And women, especially those at the margins of society, will be held accountable for the actions of their abusers. So while the victim is subjected to unrelenting criticisms and demanded to examine her own part in the abuse, the perpetrator is granted reprieve from accountability.

Women who resist patriarchal violence – even if their resistance is in accordance with the law – are penalised simply for surviving. And for women who, like my mother, lose their lives to violence, they continue to be liable for the actions of their perpetrators even when they are the victims.

I am still enraged by the things that were said to me five years ago. I am still enraged because it is not just about me, but about the millions of other women in communities everywhere who will have to face the same things that I did, who will have to go through the hell that my mother went through.

I am enraged on behalf of women everywhere who will be bold enough to demand space for themselves and their experiences, but who will not be believed. The women who will never be good enough or perfect enough for anyone’s sympathy.

I am enraged on behalf of women everywhere who will be bold enough to demand space for themselves and their experiences, but who will not be believed. The women who will never be good enough or perfect enough for anyone’s sympathy. The women who will look to their family and friends for support, but who will only be met with blame. I am enraged on behalf of my mother and of every single woman out there who, like here, did not make it out, and to those who will not; to those who continue, even in death, to be held accountable for their own murders.

Let us honour those who had no other choice. Let us honour those at the margins of society who are deemed as unworthy victims. Let us honour those who will have blame associated with them to their graves. Let us honour, and let us remember.

It is time to address the root of patriarchal and gender-based violence, sanctioned by our communities, law enforcement, and government. Unanimous denial of patriarchal indoctrination and the devastating impact it leaves on the lives of women will save no one. There are women who will suffer in the future because we choose to collude with and support violence in direct and indirect ways.

Nour Naas is a American-Libyan writer and domestic violence advocate. You can follow her on her website at nournaas.com

Family violence and mental health services:

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2018/05/08/my-mother-died-because-my-father-killed-her-full-stop?fbclid=IwAR01u8njU7ng617fK-fpkVIGCVdf-fVP_ZGnBHapT2F4cNQJBELTTgjO8ZM

Obsession with controlling what women wear needs to stop

LETTER | Sisters in Islam (SIS) demands that Kelantan’s Islamic Affairs and Religious Department (Jaheaik) stops its operations to police and summon women for their clothing, and expunge those whom have been issued notices from attending counselling sessions.

This is in reference to the article “39 women slapped with notices for wearing sexy attire during Ramadan”, which was published in the New Straits Times today.

The obsession to control what women wear needs to stop. Not only does this practice humiliate and degrade the value of women, the compulsive need to control what women wear implies that she is mentally, physically and spiritually defective and a danger to the moral order of society.

We are also extremely concerned that the operations carried out in Kota Bharu unfairly targets Muslim women, as no summons were issued to men who fail to guard their modesty by lowering their gaze as commanded by Islam [24:30]. This discrimination unfairly suggests that women are exclusively to be blamed for social and moral ills within the community.

According to the Holy Quran, discussion on how people should dress revolves around the concept of modesty. Surah Al-Araaf 7:26 speaks of clothing to cover nakedness and clothing as a thing of beauty. The same verse also makes a point that the garment of piety (taqwa) is the best of all. Verse 31 of the same Surah goes on to caution against excessiveness where it comes to dressing well for worship.

When the two above verses are taken together, we can clearly see that while clothing is to be used to cover nakedness, no amount of material used or discarded can take priority over piety (taqwa). According to Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13, the most noble of humankind in the eyes of Allah are those with the best taqwa.

We urge that Jahaeik make efforts to understand the realities of the community which they serve as a whole, as well as the systemic causes of social ills, which does not stem from how women choose to dress.


SISTERS IN ISLAM is a non-governmental organisation working towards advancing the rights of Muslim women in Malaysia within the framework of Islam, universal human rights principles, constitutional guarantees, as well as the lived realities and experiences of women.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

 

Source: https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/476002?fbclid=IwAR1cnNfyQuY0b6JrlQ5jWgBMMziMiObM1qExJkE9ub4-wmDAeriUtIpqHNk

How intolerance can persist in democratic countries: the case of Indonesia

Is tolerance among different groups a prerequisite for democracy?

Indonesia’s case shows that it’s not. Democracy, a system of government based on elected representation, is thriving in the world’s most populous Muslim country. Democratically elected presidents have governed Southeast Asia’s largest economy since the fall of Soeharto’s authoritarian regime in 1998. The country has just carried out elections in April.

At the same time intolerance of minority groups is widespread.

The capital, Jakarta, and former capital, Yogyakarta, located about 500km southeast from Jakarta, are top of the list on the Indonesia Democracy Index. But they are also listed as the most intolerant cities, according to human rights advocacy group Setara Institute. Its latest report indicates that this is due to poor regulation and governance in response to intolerant practices in both cities.

Referring to these cases in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, we argue that democracy and tolerance are independent of each other.

Democracy can still perform in Indonesia despite intolerance of minority groups. To ensure that consensus as a prerequisite for a democratic society can be reached, the minority has no choice but to keep silent and succumb to the power of the majority.

Democratic but intolerant in Yogyakarta and Jakarta

Last year, Indonesia’s Statistics Agency published a report showing the Indonesian Democracy Index improved in 2017, compared to 2016. The index rates each province in Indonesia based on its civil liberties, political rights and democratic institutions.

Yogyakarta, the seat of the Javanese monarch Hamengkubuwono X, has always secured top spot in the index in the past few years.

However, Yogyakarta’s tolerance index was the sixth-lowest compared to 93 other cities in 2017.

The Centre for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies identified around 66 violent conflicts in Yogyakarta between 2011 and 2016. In the latest case this year, 11 wooden crosses at a Christian cemetery in Yogyakarta were destroyed. A village in Yogyakarta also recently barred a non-Muslim from living in their village.

A similar pattern can be found in Jakarta.

The capital was rated Indonesia’s most democratic city for three years: 2014, 2015 and 2017.

In 2016, Jakarta lost that title due to a combination of acts of communal violence by sections of society and a poor response from the local administration in handling these violent cases. Jakarta ranked 24th out of 34 provinces in 2016.

However, similar to Yogyakarta, Jakarta scored the lowest in the tolerance index in 2017.

Jakarta gained its status as an intolerant city after intolerant practices by Muslim conservatives marred its gubernatorial election in 2017. In the end, the conservative groups ousted Christian-Chinese incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

Between democracy and tolerance

There are at least two conditions to have a democratic society. First, it must ensure equality for all actors to participate in decision-making processes.

Second, when conflicts arise, society can manage them within defined and universally accepted boundaries.

For example, imagine that you are attending a public forum or discussion to choose a leader for your community. The organiser announces that each one of you has the same right to participate and you are delighted to hear that. As the debates continue between different sides defending their arguments, you realise that things may become uncontrolled as no one wants to compromise and no one wants to lose.

Hours later, everybody is tired, and someone finally says: “Let’s remember that each one of us should have the same right to participate, therefore, let’s ask each one of us who is the better leader, then the one who has the most support wins.”

There you have the ideal condition that most democracies imagine today: participation and manageable conflict.

Let’s turn to tolerance. We define tolerance as putting up with those we disagree with, dislike, or who are different from us, without coercion. Don’t forget that the act of tolerance means that one side (the one that tolerates) accepts the other side (the one that is tolerated) so it masks unbalanced power relations. Therefore, in the context of plural communities, tolerance from both sides is needed.

From the conceptual exercise, we can argue that tolerance is highly relevant in democracies because disagreements, dislikes and differences are inevitable in plural communities.

Intolerant practices in the democratic sphere

It is also important to note that consensus in a democratic society can be reached through domination by the majority that silences the minority.

Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, a leading German researcher on public opinion, calls the process a “spiral of silence”.

From the “spiral of silence framework”, we can see how an idea takes hold in society.

We can see how this concept works through analysing how the rejection of Ahok, which was based on racial and religious grounds, could be accepted.

Ahok’s rejection was made possible through a mainstreaming of Islamic values via popular culture and daily lives. This process is called “normalisation”.

As a result of this normalisation, it is difficult to counter the intolerant narratives without being accused of being anti-Islam. Living in a Muslim-majority country, people fear the anti-Islam label.

A similar thing also happens in Yogyakarta. The minority tends to accept mistreatment by the majority as they feel the power of the majority is so big that it doesn’t leave any option for the minority but to succumb. They also feel that their fight against intolerant practices will be useless as those in authority and legal enforcers tend to defend the majority.

Both processes of mainstreaming and normalisation are arguably part of efforts to push ideas belonging to the majority to dominate the public sphere, while at the same time suppressing opposing ideas belonging to minority groups.

Democracy in Indonesia, then, seems to allow the majority to rule over the minority. What is happening in Jakarta and Yogyakarta shows that consensus in a democratic setting can be continuously achieved, but it will not always be a tolerant one.

Source: https://theconversation.com/how-intolerance-can-persist-in-democratic-countries-the-case-of-indonesia-110607?fbclid=IwAR0VMdqkYsxAMlLmGl8-ZO_iWOLOSyHOPEUsvZxQexZ-CJqHhBvbO7nT9T0

End shadows of intolerance post elections

Achmat Hilmi

TheJakartaPost

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 26, 2019   /  09:06 am

The simultaneous elections have ended, but they have left a frenzy and disputes. A group that claims to be the most moderate in the country is no longer able to display the tenderness and progressive spirit of Islam; it is trapped in political barriers and becoming intolerant. Many seem to be fighting for their spirit of primordialism based on political factions, rather than the spirit of nationalism.

During the presidential and legislative campaign period until polling day on April 17, security forces had managed to secure physical space but they never succeeded in reconciling virtual space.

These simultaneous elections have not managed to assert the next president, the votes for whom are still being tallied by the General Elections Commission (KPU). Whoever wins the presidential seat seems to be a vague figure amid truth claims of “quick counts” of pollsters and “internal counts” of the camps of the presidential contenders.

The elections have instead succeeded in blurring the spirit of diversity. The presidential election, in particular, has considerably affected family relations, friendship and national unity. One camp trumps up the threat of communism while the other raises threats of Indonesia turning into a caliphate, each claim intending to sink the electability of the incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his challenger Prabowo Subianto.

 

Social space actually reinforces differences, blurs unity.

 

Social space actually reinforces differences, blurs unity and increasingly converges to the bipolarization of political space with two extreme camps charging the other of being “infidels”. Political camps thus become increasingly exclusive.

It seems public space today, particularly as echoed in cyberspace, allows less discourse for equality and justice, and instead extends the space for discrimination against those who succumb to the rallying cries of each camp.

Many voices of devotees of tolerance and diversity have become silent, turned off by the dominance of partisanship.

Religious conservativism has merged into political ideological conservativism. Religious fanaticism has reached a universal definition; what it preaches is not a religion that many people understand.

Ideological space is now shifting; from religious ideology; moderate-conservative, transforming into a numerical ideology with symbols and political ideology jargon.

Digital space should contribute to expanding social space that we cannot immediately reach, so we could meet amid differences. But this cannot happen when the other is accused of being an infidel and not having common sense.

Intolerance and exclusivism are being increasingly crystallized to be more extreme than any ideology. There must be a way out.

The epidemic of political extremism must be stopped through the instilling, again, of noble values of tolerance and inclusiveness that depart from our ancestral heritage, progressive understanding of religion and based on the philosophy of the Pancasila.

***

The writer is program and advocacy manager at Rumah Kita Bersama.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

Link:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2019/04/26/end-shadows-of-intolerance-post-elections.html

Forced to marry a stranger: a child bride shares her story

Sharina* and Nazir met for the first time on their wedding day.

Sharina was just 14 and Nazir was 17. Their decision to marry was not theirs to make. Instead, both of them were forced into marriage by their families.

Every year, 13.5 million children under 18 are married, with many having little to no say in the matter – and of that number, 12 million are girls. Child marriage is a serious human rights violation that often cuts short a girls’ education and increases her risk of experiencing physical and sexual abuse, as well as health problems.

It won’t be easy – but ending child marriage is possible. Plan International has been working tirelessly across many countries and for many years to help end child marriage through powerful partnerships with parents, lawmakers, community leaders and especially youth.

Through our work, we encounter many former child brides – Sharina is one of them. Now she shares her story of being forced into marriage at age 14.

Portrait of Sharina

The story begins with my father. It was my father who suddenly one day took me to an old man who was visiting our village. At the time, I did not know this old man was the grandfather of the man who would soon become my husband. I also didn’t know that this “meeting” was to showcase me as a potential bride.

It was my brother’s wife who told me what was really going on. I was scared. Me – married? I was desperately sad and began to cry. I had no desire to get married.

After I was chosen as the bride for the old man’s grandson, no one talked to me about what was going to happen. At the same time, I dropped out of school.

The reasons I dropped out were partly economic, since my parents did not have much money for education, and because my best friends had also dropped out.  I was very fond of my friends and happy in our village. The thought that I had to marry and move to a place far away without anyone I knew was awfully painful to me. I did nothing but sit inside and cry.

My family travelled to meet the man who would become my husband, but I never met him – not until we were married.

The night before the wedding

The “gaye holud” is an important part of wedding traditions in Bangladesh.

It’s the night before the wedding where guests congregate while the bride is adorned for the wedding. An important part of this tradition is smearing the bride in yellow turmeric which brightens and softens the skin.  Another tradition is for the groom’s family to bring gifts for the bride – they gave me a yellow sari to wear for the ceremony.

For a bride, the holud should be a feast and celebration but I just cried. I sat on a straw mat in front of all the others, in my yellow sari, while I was decorated with yellow flowers in my hair and around my neck. Henna tattoos were also drawn on my hands and up my arm. Thoughts flew through my head – “Was it really happening now? How could it be?”

A wedding should be a happy moment but this was tragic. I knew I was too young.

Hands painted in henna

Here comes the groom

The wedding party started at 10am with the whole village present. While the party was going on outside, I sat alone in my room. The neighbours teased me, crying outside the door, “Here comes the groom!”. Each time it happened, my heart jumped and I felt like I could not breathe.

I looked down at all times during the formal session of the ceremony, it would be over when I said “kobul” – a confirmation that I consent to the marriage. But I refused to say it. This made my family angry and everyone shouted that I had to say it. They said I was being disrespectful. I had no choice. I said the words and not once did I look at the man I was forced to go away with.

The beginning of a new life

Nazir, my husband, had also been forced to marry when his mother could no longer manage to care for him. She had shown him my picture and told him that it was now or never.

As we drove away from my childhood home, we did not say a word. When I finally glanced at him, I thought he was not handsome. I did not like the look of him. The tears came back and finally I fainted.

In the first days, we hardly spoke. The tone between us was formal and brief. He eventually asked me to be less formal but I told him that I wanted to go home. He said we were married now. He was kind and understanding but said I had to realize this was my life now.

Man and woman outside home

Today, the relationship between us is much better. A few months after the wedding, I was seriously ill and bedridden with a fever. Nazir sat with me every night, put wet cloths on my forehead and took care of me. He said he loved me. He was very afraid and said he would rather die than lose me. After that, my feelings towards Nazir began to change.

Tonni

When I fell pregnant, it was Nazir who took care of me. When Tonni, our daughter, was born, Nazir was so happy. He had wanted a daughter and was so proud. I was surprised the first time I saw her. She was so pretty.

woman and man holding baby

My daughter and her future means everything to Nazir and I. Our greatest wish for her is that she will study and get an education – something we never had. Nazir’s wish is that she will become a doctor.

Together, we’ve agreed that we are never going to make the same mistakes our parents made – we will NEVER marry off our daughter.

Ending child marriage

Around the world, ‘normal’ for too many girls is facing roadblocks that challenge their power, freedom and equality just as they enter womanhood. Child marriage is an extreme example of such a roadblock, and one that often forces girls just like Sharina to drop out of school and become mothers before their young minds and bodies are ready.

Plan International Canada is calling on Canadians like you to stand with girls like Sharina to Defy Normal and help end child marriage. Together, we can support girls in becoming empowered, confident women who decide their own futures.

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

Source: https://stories.plancanada.ca/forced-to-marry-a-stranger-a-child-bride-shares-her-story/?fbclid=IwAR34Y-hd8u3kxwoPxd2RA3FQBbC8FTcT79jz5kHoHHyUROq93p0jnBlaEJ8