The Newsletter 67 Spring 2014

The Indonesian family as a contested site of women's rights

Nursyahbani Katjasungkana

Patriarchal religion and culture are embedded in various family laws, such as the 1974 Marriage Law. The socio-political context that allows fundamentalism to grow and influences the law-making process further weakens women’s position in the family and society. Fundamentalist groups managed to influence law makers at the local level to such an extent that by the end of 2011, 207 regional by-laws used ‘traditional’ cultural values and religious teachings as their sources; 78 of these were discriminative towards women. Lack of capacity among legal authorities and failure of the institution (the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection) mandated by law to uphold the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) adopted in 2004, also create impunity and limit female victims of domestic violence from exercising their rights and accessing justice.