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Indonesian Men’s Perceptions of Violence Against Women

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. It can include physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse, and cuts across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth, and geography. A 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) study of domestic violence worldwide found “empirically, across a wide range of settings, that women are more at risk of violence from an intimate partner than from any other type of perpetrator”1.

In 1984, Indonesia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which requires countries to take all appropriate steps to end violence against women (Nilan & Utari, 2008). Responsibility for implementation of this convention rests with Indonesia’s Ministry for Women’s Empowerment. Many well-intended government regulations and measures have since been implemented. These include the 1999 Zero Tolerance Policy and the 2000 National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In 2002, ministries for Women’s Affairs, Health, and Social Affairs signed a joint agreement with the national police force to establish multisectoral and integrated services to victims of gender-based violence. In 2004, Law No. 23 on the Elimination of Domestic Violence set out procedures to protect victims of domestic violence and punish perpetrators. Government-funded organizations such as Komnas Perempuan (National Commission for Women) directly address violence against women and aim to reeducate the population on women’s human rights2. At the grassroots level, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are active in developed urban areas. For example, the NGO Rifka Annisa in Yogykarta works both with women as victims of domestic violence3 and with men as perpetrators of domestic violence4. Both programs acknowledge how patriarchal traditions, both cultural and religious, enshrine the discourse of women as weak and inferior to men5. For the program that works directly with men, targeted interventions challenge the assumption that men have the right to lead and discipline women.

However, this is a deep cultural assumption and, given the prevailing discourses of masculinity in Indonesia, it will not be easily transformed. Indonesian data on violence against women tend to be scarce and unreliable, yet “some evidence suggests that violence against women and sexual harassment are common”6. For example, a recent study of violence in the family home in eastern Indonesia concluded that “it is violence in the private realm, and not the public sphere, that is the most pervasive form of gender-based violence in Indonesia”7. Whereas that study focused exclusively on women’s accounts, in the current study we analyze men’s viewpoints on domestic violence, which to date have not received due attention8. By focusing on what Indonesian men think about violence against women, the findings of this study reveal widely held discourses that challenge efforts to bring about change.

http://lakilakibaru.or.id/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Indonesian-Mens-Percepcions-of-violence-against-women.pdf


  1. Garcia-Moreno, Jansen, Ellsberg, Heise, & Watts, 2006, p. 1268 

  2. Krisnawaty, Wahid, Hasani, & Madaniah, 2009 

  3. see Hakimi, Hayati, Marlinawati, Winkvist, & Ellsberg, 2001 

  4. see Hasyim, Kurniawan, & Hayati, 2011 

  5. Hasyim, Kurniawan, & Hayati, 2011; see also Ilyas, Ariyani, & Hidayat, 2005 

  6. van Klaveren, Tijdens, Hughie-Williams, & Martin, 2010, p. 16; see also Hakimi et al., 2001; Krisnawaty et al., 2009 

  7. Bennett, Andajani-Sutjahjo, & Idrus, 2011, p. 160 

  8. Peralta, Tuttle, & Steele, 2010 

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