After having been married for almost two years, Andriani, not her real name, said her husband began to change, becoming more aggressive and prone to violence.
“Several times after work, he scolded me. I was just trying to ask him what I had done wrong, but he slapped me. I was shocked. He was not the same man I knew before,” the 25-year-old said about the man she had earlier dated for five years.
The idea of reporting him to the police or a support group, or telling her parents, was never on her mind, because he told her that such harsh treatment was allowed under Islam. In addition, she believed her husband did not mean to hurt her.
“After scolding or assaulting me he usually apologizes and gently approaches me, telling me that it was my mistake that made him angry and that the Quran doesn’t prohibit husbands from hitting wives. And I have to obey him, because now he is my husband,” she told The Jakarta Post.
Andriani’s experience is still common, inspired by misinterpreted or abused Islamic teachings widely blamed for patriarchy. At the national seminar of women ulema on Wednesday in Cirebon, Muslim scholar Nur Rofiah of the College of Quranic Teachings in Jakarta said Islam urged men to treat women with respect.
Patriarchy or al abawi was a social, not a religious, practice, she said, in which males had the highest, even total, authority, while women were marginalized “or even considered non-existent,” she said.
In her presentation on the methodology of Islamic study based on justice for women, Nur Rofiah cited the commonly abused instruction that women must obey their husbands.
“The Quran never states that women should obey their husbands,” she said, adding that the verses on the obligation of women to “obey” referred to God.
Indonesia, Nur said, is now fairly open to discussing the emancipation of women. “However this space could close if [conservative] views with no perspective of justice become stronger,” she said.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) revealed last year that there were 10,205 reports of domestic violence, but this is suspected to be only the tip of the iceberg of unreported cases such as the above case of the young wife.
Around 57 percent of them, or almost 5,800 reports, were violence by husbands against their wives. Physical abuse dominated in terms of type of violence, accounting for about 42 percent, followed by sexual abuse with 34 percent and mental including verbal, abuse with 14 percent. The figure was only slightly lower than the previous year, where there were over 11,200 reports including dating violence, which contributed 24 percent.
Komnas Perempuan commissioner Masruchah told the Post that patriarchy and ignorance about Islamic teachings continued to preserve the belief that women must obey men.
“Many victims and perpetrators learned [to accept these beliefs and domestic violence] from how their fathers treated their mothers,” Masruchah said.
Following the international seminar on women ulema on Tuesday, the speakers concluded that “Women are entitled to take the lead and have the right and authority to define what Islam means because women suffer in the name of Islam.” The statement added, “This is why women are at the forefront of demanding justice as the core principle of Islam, even if change and challenging patriarchy in religion is not easy and requires courage.”
Machasin, a scholar from Sunan Kalijaga Islamic State University in Yogyakarta, said women must be more strongly encouraged to speak their minds.
“They should be there to step forward and voice their opinions, although there will still be many objections [from conservatives],” Machasin said.(Nurul Fitri Ramadhani)