Brilio spoke with Indriyato Suparno the Head of Komnas Perempuan.

Adelia Anjani Putri   08 March 2017 16:05

Violence against women is still a big issue in Indonesia. Based on the National Commission for Women (Komnas Perempuan) data, in 2016 there were 259,150 reported cases of violence against women. The number decreased from 2015's 321,752 reported cases, but it does not mean that the condition is getting better.

It's simply caused by administrative changes that created technical difficulties in reporting process and data gathering.

If we use the 2015 data, we can see that the number of cases increased from previous years and the crimes became more violent than before.

Though the increase of reported cases might be a positive sign of increasing awareness and better access to crisis center, it shows that women are still unsafe from violence both in public and in private scene. 

In fact, violence conducted in private scenes usually makes up for the highest percentage of whole reported cases. In 2015, 38 percent of 321,752 total reported cases are either domestic violence or physical abuse in personal relationship.

But why are women so prone to abuse? Is it all the men’s fault? Or is it the women’s fault for not standing up for themselves?

We met with Komnas Perempuan commissioner Indriyati Suparno to talk about the issue.

“I think the problem is rooted in the inequality within a relationship which can be based on gender or power,” she said. “The inequality dissolves into more specific problems. Economic problems, for example. Women tend to have smaller chance to improve her economic condition, or even when they do earn more, the men in the relationship experience existential crisis about his position as the breadwinner. Sometimes, the issues are worsened by intervention from the big family.”

Such issues then translate into physical, verbal and emotional abuse from one party to another.

But don’t we already have laws on abuses? We even have Law No. 23/2004 on Domestic Violence. Isn’t it enough?

Indriyati said that having the law is better than nothing, but it is still insufficient to tackle domestic violence as the issue touches so many aspects both in personal and societal life.

“The law itself took around 4-5 years for implementation. People used to be okay with domestic violence. It has been normalized for so many years, it’s hard to make people see that it is not normal, that domestic violence should not happen in any household,” she said.

First of all, domestic violence happens in a private domain —mostly marriage, where everything is not black and white like in other types of crime.

“In our society, marriage is a sacred institution and it involves not only two persons but also the big families, the traditional customs, the culture. So it’s not easy for victims to speak up about the violence they’ve endured,” explained Indriyati.

“Even when they have the courage, they would still have to think about child custody, economic need and status. So it’s a complex issue, that’s why it’s so challenging for us and social workers to help the victims.”

The law on domestic abuse also does not cover material compensation for victims which in the end makes the victims rethink about their decision to go through the whole legal process.

“The victims keep questioning whether going through the long process would pay off. The legal bill adds more burden, and there’s also the psychological pressure they have to endure,” she said. “So, usually victims would settle for a divorce. Most of them even reconcile with their abuser, though we know that the cycle will not end. The violence will likely to occur again in the future, but what can we do?”

The condition is worsened by the patriarchal values instilled within the society in general, including those who are supposed to be responsible to protect the victims.

“The society, including the authorities, tend to think that a wife should not speak up against the husband, or that a good woman should not shame the family, and so on. So, when the victims decided to take action, it usually fires back at her. She’ll be stigmatized, or even worse, reported back for defamation. And it’s worse if the case involves a public figure,” she said.


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