A report by the National Women’s Commission showed a massive increase in violence against women in Indonesia last year.
More than 300,000 women were the victims of violence, 70% of them domestic violence – and that’s just the cases that are reported.
It’s a growing problem. But one man, Nur Hasyim, is taking a stand, working with a group of like-minded men to fight for gender equality.
Wydia Angga has his story from Jakarta.
“My personal experience it is hard to be boy, as a boy in my family I was considered as different. As I remembered my mom said that you are very sensitive, It is easy for you to cry and I couldn’t fight when I had conflict or if I fight I will end with crying.”
That’s Nur Hasyim, from the State Islamic University Wali Songo in Semarang. He’s the founder of the New Men’s Alliance - a men’s movement promoting gender equality.
“My family is typically very patriarchal family where my father is the one who has to be served and my mom has to do everything in the house,” Nur told me.
“Like other women I think my mom should have chance to continue her education. Because I know my mom is very smart woman. She knows everything about our rice field better than my dad. But still in society my father status is higher than my mother.”
Nur’s inspiration might be a personal one, but his goal is to create a more just society, to give women greater opportunity, and to work with men to stop domestic violence.
Street protests are one way to spread the message of gender equality. But Nur says some attitudes are hard to change. Take for example victim blaming - the idea that women are to blame for sexual assault.
“They consider us as a loser! One day when we had protest, in that moment our friends wearing miniskirts, and holding posters against sexual harassment and against rape. Rape is not about miniskirts, but about man’s perspective. So many respond in online news, they said that this group is homosexual, and wants to attract attention from the media.”
Nur doesn’t give up easily.
He presents a radio talkshow called “Gentlemen Hotline” and also writes regular columns on men, masculinity and violence for his local newspaper in Yogyakarta.
And he’s working with other international men’s groups fighting violence against women.
But one of his biggest challenges is working directly with abusive men.
“They have a problem in how to change their behavior. They said that what they have done is correct according to them, according to the religion, according to the culture, so there’s nothing wrong with them.”
But continued Nur, “helping them to see how their kid, or their wife suffers from their behavior, that’s actually the challenge.”
“We start helping them to learn the new way of communication, like having positive communication, helping them to manage their anger, practicing timeout technique when they have conflict with their partner and they feel like they can’t control themselves.”
“We help to build new relationship with their wife.”
This song - Sister in danger - by Indonesian Band, Simponi is about the high rates of domestic violence in Indonesia. They wrote this song to stand up for women and give a voice to all victims of violence, sexual harassment and sexual abuse.
Indonesia is a signatory to international conventions outlawing violence against women and children, and it’s passed anti-violence laws domestically. But, despite this, it’s a growing problem.
Nur Hasyim’s dream is that, one day, there’ll be no more violence against women and that women will have the same opportunities here in Indonesia as men.
“We have human rights regulation, our constitution also clearly states that man and women should be treated equally. We also anti domestic violent acts, anti human trafficking acts. There is a growing movement to end child marriage. So that indicates that one day we will achieve gender equality society in our country.”
Nur Hasyim hopes gender equality will be achieved as soon as possible.