Rumah KitaB Conducted Studies on Family Planning

Rumah Kita Bersama or better known as Rumah KitaB is a non-profit organization that works to strengthen and empower boarding schools in the development of Islamic thinking, education, and tradition. Initiated in 2005 by Dr. H. Affandi Mochtar, but formally established in 2010, Rumah KitaB is currently led by Lies Marcoes-Natsir and has 8 permanent researchers and about 30 members of the existing network in various pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in Indonesia.

Two Rumah KitaB major events are studies and research. The study is conducted in two forms, bahtsul masa’il and thematic discussion. One study was conducted in 2012 about Islam and Women’s Rights: Mapping the views and attitudes about family planning. To give a briefing to the researchers, on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 Rumah KitaB held a limited workshop attended by approximately 15 participants in a hotel in Central Jakarta. Rahima, Aisyiyah, Women’s Health Foundation (YKP) and PSW UIN Syarif Hidayatullah are some institutions invited to the workshop.

In the opening speech of the workshop, David Hulse, a Ford Foundation Representative expressed his excitement to be working with Rumah KitaB. While Lies Marcoes said that there are three output of the research activities: first, mapping and documentation of religious groups argumentations in rejecting the research-based family planning; second, the preparation and dissemination of reproductive rights that could answer public anxiety and prejudices about family planning program (KB); third, the preparation of a research-based policy paper as a material advocacy to policy-makers on strategic, open, and honest KB campaign, as well as responsive to the varied views of people about family planning.

This research will be conducted in several areas such as Bodetabek (Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi), Bandung, Cirebon, Solo and Malang. In accordance with the purpose of the workshop, among others, to give a briefing to the Rumah KitaB researchers, several speakers presented at the forum, such as The National Family Planning Coordination Board (BKKBN) represented by Mr. Ari, who presented ‘KB Implementation Today: Challenges and Barriers’, Lies Marcoes presented ‘Research Methodology: Gender Analysis and the Islamic Movement ‘, Ismail Hasani and Solahudin each presenting their field research experiences.

After the speakers gave their presentations, a lively discussion usually entails. Researchers and workshop participants take turns asking questions or feedback. In response to Mr. Ari’s discussion on BKKBN, for example, the questions asked were, among others, the need to look back at BKKBN campaign strategy, saying that ‘two children are better’ because it came across as directing (young) Indonesian families to only have two children. The campaign also made the participants reminded of coercive family planning programs conducted with full force during the New Order regime.

Another question asked was the current availability of contraceptives in public. According to one participant who had previously conducted research on the matter, the availability of contraceptives in the field does not correspond to the needs of family planning. Another question was regarding BKKBN’s strategy to involve religious leaders and religious institutions in disseminating KB programs.

Discussion on Research Methodology session: Gender analysis and the Islamic movement, was aimed to go deeper on the need to provide a feminist perspective on the research. Rumah KitaB will emphasize this matter. While at the last session, on research experiences, Ismail Hasani of Setara and Solahudin gave many tips on field research tailored to their backgrounds as activists and investigative journalists. [Dani]