The Role of Tegalgubug Women as A Symbol of Contemporary Khadijah

TEGALGUBUG is a village in Cirebon through which an inter-provincial transport flows; the Pantura (Pantai Utara Jawa – Java North Coast) route. Tegalgubug has been increasingly popular with its Pasar Sandang Murah (cheap clothing market) that contributes nicely to the dynamics of micro and macro economics.

Initially, Pasar Sandang Murah was integrated with pasar sembako (basic food supplies market) located next to the Village Office, Mosque and the Al-Hilal Madrasah Tsanawiyah (Islamic secondary school). A number of services for the community is located in one area; the market as a symbol of economic transaction and fulfilment of the people’s needs, the mosque as a symbol of religion and spirituality, the Village Office as a symbol of government, and the schools and the madrasah as a symbol of education. This strategic layout was said to have been created by the founder of the village, namely Ki Gede Suropati.

Previously, the Tegalgubug clothing market was only open on Saturdays, while the basic needs market are open every day of the week. The clothing and textile merchants would sell their products elsewhere; like in the Susukan sub-district market on Tuesdays, Jatibarang market of Indramayu on Sundays and Wednesdays, the Parapatan Penjalin Market of Majalengka on Mondays and Thursdays. Fridays are their day off, while Saturdays are used to shop for products in textile centers in Bandung, Tangerang, and Jakarta. Slowly but surely, the clothing market grew and the place it occupied could no longer hold it. The merchants then started to display their products around the designated market area, like in front of the Village Office, in front of the mosque, and on the sides of the streets. Consequently, the village officers in collaboration with local business owners finally built a 30 hectare market building located on the side of Pantura road, open on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

The market, is the beginning of all social changes that occurs.

Wadon Sing Ning Arep, Lanange Sing Ning Guri

There is a jargon circulating amongst the merchants in Tegalgubug which goes, “Kapa wong wadon sing ning arep dagangane payu/laris, tapi kapa lanang sing ning arep ora patian payu,” (If you put a woman at the shop front, you will sell more. But if you put a man, you will sell less). Sing ning arep or the one at the front means anyone who offers the products of the shop, bargains, and provide assistant with the customers. That girls should be sing ning arep (at the front), comes from the local people’s experience that the women are usually more efficient and capable in conducting a business. In fact, when purchasing products to re-sell (textile, clothes, etc.) from the factory or wholesale stores—although most would go as couples, the woman/wife with their man/husband—the women are usually more dominant in lobbying with the factory decision makers or wholesale traders. So, sing ning guri (the one at the back) are the men/husbands.This sing ning guri adage is also consistent with what is called konco wingking (sidekick).

The sing ning arep and sing ning guri relation is a true form of a parallel division of tasks, rather than a superior-inferior relationship. The image of women that are usually seen to only have duties in bed, kitchen and well, does not apply to women of Tegalgubug. The husband and wife relationship in Tegalgubug is a partnership between two subjects efficient in performing tasks; the women’s role is in bookeeping and regulating cashflow, diplomacy with customers and factory decision makers or wholesale traders, and analyzing what merchandise to sell in the market. While the husband’s task is to organize the products with the employees, prepare or assist customers in choosing and sorting, along with other manual work, in addition to assisting the wife. However, the distribution of these tasks are not steadfast, but only in general and does not apply to all people and circumstances. Because most of the times the women/wives also do what the husbands do. Especially for single parent women who certainly work on the job by themselves.

So why do the women have position of control? There are a few points of considerations; First, they are seen to be more frugal and careful in spending money. Second, they are considered as more meticulous, calculative and organized. Third, based on the experience, when the men are in charge of the finances, they would often spend it irresponsibly. More often than not, a hedonistic lifestyle, uncontrolled hobbies or succumbing to wayuan (polygamy temptations) results in the family’s bankruptcy. This very common bankruptcy story teach a valuable lesson for the merchants to withhold the wives’ position as the financial managers.

The women of Tegalgubug are taught business, entreneurship, and economic independence from the early age by their parents—in addition to supportive environment—they learn how to manage the finances, help their mothers at the market while observing how to properly do business, usually done during the school or madrasah holiday, they also learn various skills such as sewing, dressmaking, overlocking, button making, folding, etc.

To their sons, the mothers of Tegalgubug give advices on how to find the right wife; aja kang kaya pedaringan bolong (not those who are like a hollow rice basket). Pedaringan or rice basket is a symbol of woman who accomodate and manage the finances. So a hollow rice basket or pedaringan bolong is a metaphor for women who are excessive and unable to manage the finances, which in turn will be uncapable of creating a prosperous life. This kind of parent’s advice reflects the people of Tegalgubug’s awareness on economy and that an ideal wife is the one that can manage the money, rather than overspending it—of course in addition to other criteria like good background.

Interpreting Religion

The people of Tegalgubug are mostly Nahdiyyin Muslims. There are a number of pesantren (islamic boarding school) and the salaf pesantren (pesantren with traditional teachings) are considered as the favorite education institution. The santri (pesantren student) society can be identified by their daily clothing, the men usually wear sarong and black kopiah (hat), and the women wear a veil (instead of long hijab) and an outfit that would cover everything except their faces, hands, and feet.

written by by Mukti Ali el-Qum

Gender and Pluralism in the Law of Inheritance in Indonesia

By M. Billah Yuhadian *)

People may think that the prevailing law of inheritance in Indonesia is solely derived from the religious law (Islamic fiqh). While in reality, the implementation of inheritance allocation is very pluralistic and does not always use the Islamic jurisprudence as a reference. The most common principle used is discussion for a consensus. Although the foundation in determining the distribution of inheritance refers to the religious law (Faraid Law), but each family usually has a policy in the distribution of inheritance based on consensus. And as long as the decision was taken by consensus and in fairness, then the family members can accept the distribution of property without having to go through a formal decision of the judiciary (the District Court or a Religious Court).

This condition indicates that the inheritance law in Indonesia is pluralistic in nature; some are subject to the positive law sourced from the law applied since the colonial era, Burgerlijk Wetboek (BW), and some to the Islamic Inheritance Law compiled in the KHI (Compilation of Islamic Law) and the Traditional Inheritance Law. This diversity can be translated as a form of political accommodation that was established by the government in the colonial period which still continues to the present time to accomodate other laws that have been introduced in the society. The recognition shows that the three sources of law have full authority and regarded as equal.

Obviously, inheritance will be discussed only if all three required elements for inheritance distribution have been fulfilled; in the event of death, any property to be inherited, any party entitled to receive inheritance and the agreement for inheritance distribution.

In the traditional law, one of the reoccuring issue is regarding the eldest child’s position that is often associated with his/her responsibility as the successor of the clan, which is frequently seen as a reason enough for a firstborn to receive more/most inheritance compared to his/her siblings. As the case between sons and daughters, either one is sometimes more prioritized for inheritance. Some culture still distribute inheritance only to the sons, with the preassumption that the daughters would already get a cut from their husbands. Certainly this is based on the assumption that every woman will marry and every woman marries a man that is entitled for inheritance in his family. For this reason also, daughters are often expected to find a suitor from equal social status, and even sometimes subject to arranged marriage.

This viewpoint is deemed problematic, one of which is because not all woman gets a partner or gets a partner that is entitled for family inheritance. Therefore, a traditional mechanism is usually applied to ensure that a daughter would get equal share, such as home, land, or jewelry, as seen in Lombok indegenious people of NTB.

The inheritance distribution based on traditional law is not always in line with the other two law sources. This indicates that Indonesia’s inheritance law is still using the pluralistic law approach. The positive law (BW) introduced the equal 1:1 distribution of inheritance for both male and female children. This applies to all condition, regardless of position in the family, gender, or financial status. While the Islamic Inheritance Law generally applies the 2:1 distribution—where the son is entitled for twice the amount of inheritance than the daughter. The traditional inheritance law, however, has a diversed pattern and nature, which has become a inheritance distribution model that is unique to Indonesian culture that is completely different from the Islamic Inheritance law or the (western) Civil Inheritance Law based on the BW.

The inheritance distribution based on the Traditional Inheritance Law is influenced by the kinship in the society itself. Theoretically, the kinship system in Indonesia can be categorized in three patterns; the patrilineal system, in which the position of men is more favored and therefore affects the inheritance, the matrilineal system in which the position of daughters and women in generally are higher, and the parental or bilateral system which puts both man and woman as equal and therefore have equal rights.

The fact that the Inheritance Law in Indonesia is pluralist by nature, of course, makes those who seek for justice wonder; which inheritance law is most appropriate to be used in case of inheritance dispute. In most cases, people would seek justice in the courts provided by the government. Non-Muslim family or a Muslim family who do not want to use Islamic law, would use the western inheritance law or the positive law derived from BW. Those who uphold customary law can use the Traditional Inheritance Law, and Muslim Families can use the Islamic Inheritance Law in the Compilation of Islamic Law (KHI).

Whichever law that is finally applied, the most important thing is to uphold the values of justice and consensus. By using gender analysis, we can find a benchmark to see how justice can be enforced; that everyone should be considered as equal, or a discrimination could occur and prejudice would come into play and one party might oppress another. Whereas the inheritance law discussed in the aforementioned sources of law was created to avoid opression and to enforce justice. From the law point of view, we can make an independent choices on which law that conform with the collective agreement.

*) Writer is an alumni of the Faculty of Law University of Hasanuddin, Makassar and a researcher in Rumah Kita Bersama

Aisyiyah’s Challenges in the 2nd Century

Born in 1917, the oldest women’s organizations in Indonesia, Aisyiyah, is going to be a hundred years old. This is an important achievement, considering other organizations born at the same era or even afterwards many have been collapsed.

A number of milestones have been recorded as Aisyiyah’s contributions to the nation. A number of annotations also should be delivered as a sign of love for Aisyiyah.

With the establishment of Aisyiyah alone has proved Muhammadiyah’s ijtihad in translating the values of progressive Islam. Through the examples shown by Kiai Ahmad Dahlan, Muhammadiyah firmly demonstrated the importance of women within organization and educating people. Starting from the establishment of Sopo Tresno association that taught women how to read, write, and recite Al Quran, then the association changed into Aisyiyah, Muhammadiyah showed its attitude against colonial politics that restricted access to education for Muslims and women.

Aisyiyah’s Contributions

Through Aisyiyah, within Aisyiyah, and together with Aisyiyah, Muhammadiyah has offered a progressive perspective that allows Muslim women to have a choice that is justified by syar’i to have roles in the realm of domestic and public spheres, dakwah, and tajdid. Aisyiyah’s movement is manifested in the strengthening and renewal of religious, educational, health, social services, and organizational disciplines.
All activities are driven by the members who are willing to practice good deeds and worship under the command of an organization that is tiered from the center to its branches throughout Indonesia. Using their own way, they are trying to translate the dakwah principles that keep people from ignorance through the real dakwah action by helping the duafa-mustadh’afin.

Together with the development of the country, Aisyiyah showed its achievements that were harmonious with the development of the era. In the New Order era, when a great number of Islamic organizations collapsed and did not pass “litsus”, Muhammadiyah and Aisyiyah survived as urban and middle-class organizations. Many of people reckoned it was because of their accommodative stances against the state’s will. In fact, it was not that easy because Muhammadiyah and Aisyiyah needed to keep the ideology and faith of its members. At that time, it was not easy as well to be different from the views of the country that insists on imposing the ideology of Pancasila as the single interpretation of the New Order.

Similarly, that happened to women’s issues. At that time, the state insisted on carrying the ideology of “Ibuism” that positioned women solely as a companion to the husband. This ideology was widely penetrated in the form of state’s version of coercive Keluarga Berencana (Family Planning). Among the difficulties to oppose, Aisyiyah chose to hold on to the principle of “Amar Makruf Nahi Munkar” (choose virtues, refuse wrongdoings). On the full support of Mr. A.R. Fachruddin, Chairman of Muhammadiyah at that time, Aisyiyah thrust the concept of “Sakinah Family” as a different perspective against “Kekonco-wingkingan” ideology that the New Order created.

Although it seems simple, the concept of “Sakinah Family” was based on the idea of responsibility that must be carried out by each individual, no matter what his/her position within the family was. This role will have to be accountable before God. The role of mothers in this concept was to protect family members.

Critically, this idea was interpreted as a form of Aisyiyah’s submission to the will of the New Order. On the other hand, this idea was suspected as an effort in the process of family Islamization. At that time the country was so phobia against Islam. In fact, the idea of “Sakinah Family” gave different basis because its basic concept was a matter of responsibility of the afterlife. Later on, when the country was more open to Muslims, the idea was adopted by the country in order to boost family planning program.

Losing Basic Rights

Right now, Aisyiyah’s effort in giving a decent place for women within organization has demonstrated outstanding achievements. Aisyiyah has managed to build valuable social capital, which is spread all over the country. Various types of Aisyiyah’s divine struggles include educational institutions, which are built from the level of early childhood/kindergarten (Aisyiyah Bustanul Atfal) up to the college level, including non-formal education.
The number of the educational institutions is approximately 24,000. They set up thousands of social welfare institutions (orphanages), homes for the elderly, and safe shelter for victims of domestic violence. In health sector, Aisyiyah works from bottom to top; they provide skilled workers in healthcare, hospitals, maternal child health centers, and polyclinics. The number is thousands with various capacity in delivering service; large, medium, and small.

Despite of Aisyiyah’s track record, this organization is dealing with issues that require a new tajdid attitude in their movement to face the second century. The extent of the problems faced is larger and more fundamental. Globalization has affected households, even up to the relationship between husband and wife. Relations carried on in the idea of “Sakinah Family” are no longer suitable in viewing the issues. It is because of changes in the living space due to the loss of people’s access, particularly poor people, half of them are women, over land and economic resources.

Ownership and land use transfer into giant extractive industries, forest clearance for coal and oil, demolition mountains to cement, as well as fishing by giant dredger, have clearly changed the resilience of families and people of the villages. Changes in living space cause millions of women migrate as low-skilled labors in the city, but they are rarely connected with religious organizations. Millions of women are losing their basic rights with vulnerable physical and reproductive health conditions.

Likewise, thousands of female workers have little protection. They need to be addressed with an approach that also understands the new forms of exploitation in the era of globalization. It shows humanitarian problems that are caused by changes in living space, and economic power relations should be seen as a problem of the people and not women solely.

Along with socio-ecological changes, the structures of social relations in urban and rural areas are also changing. The role of officials and religious leaders more as the servants of the corporations. Or they are eliminated by the exploitation and expansion of giant industries. When there is a “void” in leadership, the positions are filled with new players who do not understand the context of Islam and nationality. They conduct a new interpretation that is discriminatory against women, but use a more conservative and radical religious authority. Child marriage as well as exclusion of women from public sphere in the name syar’i are rampant. They are presumably two major issues that require consideration, not only for Aisyiyah, but also for Muhammadiyah.

Women Against Defeat

The issue of gender inequality remains a bitter reality in society. Impoverished women experience double the pressure. First, because they are poor. Second, because they are women. For a lot of women, poverty is created. Values, social processes, institutions, and practices of discrimination that are based on prejudice have systematically rendered them alienated from economic, social, and political resources.

Impoverishment of women in Bali is shrouded in the transfer of ownership of land for tourism, while in West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara, it is influenced by child marriage and the new generation of migrant workers. Furthermore, there is also the transfer of ownership and function of land into palm oil field in West Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, and Aceh.

The discussion of women impoverishment is recorded in “ A Journey Against Defeat: Narative of Women’s Rejection of Poverty”, written by Lies Marcoes-Natsir (INSISTPress, 2014). In addition to texts, the story of women’s struggle is also translated into pictures. This narrative was produced after a nine months journey to eight areas in the archipelago.

This pressing situation has not only been responded with passivity. Hayat from Aceh stood against discrimination of being HIV positive through the HIV NAD Support Group NGO. Ibu Rini from the deep forest of West Kalimantan fought against the palm oil mafia of Core Estate and Smallholder (Perkebunan Inti Rakyat) through advocacy. Mama Katarina from Ende intensively rejects the mining of ironsand, by mobilizing her church network and community groups.

Not only in Indonesia, the women struggle also occurs in various parts of the world. This social movements are detailed in the book “Ecofeminism”, a collaborative work of a physicist with a background in ecological movement, Vandana Shiva, and a social scientist, Maria Mies (IRE Press, 2005). The book examines the social movements from an ecofeminism point of view, a feminism idea which sees the connection between nature and women in a patriarchal culture.

The outcome from this publication is the vision of subsistence perspective or survival perspective, a vision for a better communal lives. They see the struggle for survival as a critical action towards things that are agressive, exploitative, and destructive. If the patriarchal economy prioritize economic growth, the subsistence economic system promotes life itself.

Ecofeminism emerged from diverse social movements in the late 1970s until the early 1980s. The term ecofeminism became popular after the actions of opposing destructions that had triggered ongoing ecological disaster. Nuclear meltdown at the Three Mile Island had driven a number of women in the United States to gather in the first ecofeminism conference in March 1980.

Women’s movement associated with environment later intensified, among others, with the establishment of the International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Engineering (1984), a congress in Sweden (1985), Bangladesh (1988), and Brazil (1991). From these meetings on ecofeminism, it has been concluded that women’s liberation is part of a struggle to preserve life. [KOMPAS’ R&D / IGP].