women and human rights under islam university of south carolina l.
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WOMEN AND HUMAN RIGHTS UNDER ISLAM University of South Carolina. GENDER & HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDONESIA By Julia Suryakusuma. WOMEN IN THE REFORM ERA IN INDONESIA (1998-2007) . Lecture 3. The End of 32 Years Authoritarian Rule.

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women and human rights under islam university of south carolina



IN INDONESIABy Julia Suryakusuma

the end of 32 years authoritarian rule
The End of 32 Years Authoritarian Rule
  • May 21, 1998 Suharto stepped down, ending 32 years of authoritarian, military dominated-rule
  • Opened up Pandora’s box of New Order: illusion of Indonesia’s development paradigm, ‘bubble economy’ dependent of foreign loans, monopoly, collusion corruption, nepotism (KKN)
  • Indonesia plummeted further into ‘kristal’ (krisis total, total crisis) - political, economic, moral, which had preceded the Suharto’s ouster
  • May riots, peak of anarchy: mass destruction, arson, looting, rampages, and rape of Chinese women
  • Emergence of new civil society groupings: political, religious, student and women > opening up of democratic space
women as pioneers of democratization
Women as Pioneers of Democratization
  • Suara Ibu Peduli (SIP), Voice of Concerned Mothers: the first, held demonstration Feb. 23, 1998, at Hotel Indonesia roundabout, demanding economic and political reforms, moved by concern for soaring prices, social unrest, and rise in violence
  • Participants: university lecturers, activists, intellectuals and housewives, playing on state ibuism model to legitimise their action
  • Timing: bold, held during week-long ban on demonstrations before parliamentary session to elect a ‘new’ president
  • Historical: the first time in 32 years a women’s group taken to streets in protest of the government, and first of any civil society group
awakening of civil society s political consciousness
Awakening of Civil Society’s Political Consciousness
  • Other civil society groups followed: professionals, Muslim, civil servants, students, business people, housewives, and other middle-class groups who had otherwise been complacent or inert. No day without demonstrations!
  • Increase in number of NGOs and social organisations
  • Political parties: mushroomed uncontrollably (including Partai Perempuan Indonesia, Indonesian Women Party), a reflection of strong desire to participate in a more liberal and open arena, as well as to access political power previously denied in New Order.
  • Political parties viewed ambivalently, perceived as reflecting narrow, selfish interests, even extremism; power, not people-oriented
short and long term issues
Short and Long Term Issues
  • Short term: Habibie’s (former VP) presidency, Suharto family & cronies, eliminating KKN, role of military, legitimacy of government
  • Long term: deeply entrenched economic crisis, reviewing development policies, making institutional changes, doing away with the dual-function of the military, breathing new life into economic, political and legal spheres, creating bureaucratic efficiency, changing the electoral system, formation of true political party system, creating a free press, redressing the ethnic economic balance, reaffirming religious tolerance, liberalization of the education system, legal reform, decentralization of the economy, political power and government, and a greater decision-making role for women
change in balance of forces political powers
Change in Balance of Forces & Political Powers
  • Considerable weakening of state power, in particular, the executive branch, and legislature become dominant branch
  • Weakening of military power, rise of civil society and religious groups
  • Decentralization and regional autonomy
women as conspicuous political participants
Women as conspicuous political participants
  • In the transitional period between New Order and the Reform Era, in formal political and state structures: Megawati Sukarnoputri as first woman party leader (PDI-P - Indonesian Nationalist Party) and symbol of opposition to the wrongs of unrestrained executive power; Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana (Tutut, Suharto’s daughter) as most influential leader in Golkar and as a cabinet minister (Social Affairs); first woman faction leader in parliament; first woman deputy speaker of the MPR (People’s Consultative Assembly); and first woman agriculture minister
  • Women more influential, occupying senior positions in economic and political portfolios
women as conspicuous
Women as conspicuous…
  • In civil society: SIP (Voice of Concerned Mothers), Women’s Coalition for Justice and Democracy (founded May 18, 1999, more overtly political than SIP), women’s NGOs, lawyers, and individual activists (academics, scholars, journalists, artists, writers).
  • Gained legitimacy from their role as protectors of the moral and social order
  • In first 6 months of 1998, protested against state violence, dwifungsi, soaring prices of basic commodities and against state-sanctioned religious & ethnic intolerance
  • Staged demonstrations, organised inter-faith prayers, issuing political statements and analysis, arrested for political activism, established new political organisations, and strong advocates of political reform in President Habibie’s transitional government
initial advances and achievement
Initial advances and achievement
  • May Riots 1998: ironically the riots, which included the organised rapes of Chinese women, added momentum to women’s political activism (during crisis, increase in VAW, including domestic violence; VAW systemically used by state to suppress separatism in Aceh, Papua, E. Timor)
  • Visit of Radhika Comaraswamy in 1998, UN Raporteur on Violence against Women, leading to Formation of National Commission on Violence against Women (set up by Presidential Decree under Habibie administration)
  • Raised awareness of women’s political rights (politically correct), advocacy campaigns for women’s political participation, push for women’s quotas in parties, parliament, state bodies
women s concerns sidelined
Women’s concerns sidelined
  • Women’s concerns sidelined by ‘bigger’ socio-economic and political issues, and power interests and competition
  • Partly a carryover from past attitudes, but also because of significant contemporary political issues: who would be new leader, what would be basis of the state, role of Islam, should Suharto be tried for past abuses, etc.
  • First democratic elections in 1999: organisation of political parties to contest in elections rose to national centre stage
  • Parties - 180 plus created, 48 eligible for elections, heavily dominated by men
  • For PDI-P, having Megawati as party leader and striving to make her president of R.I. was the women’s issue
women sidelined
Women sidelined…
  • Women’s issues co-mingled with broader struggle for democracy
  • Views of larger parties: democracy, with attendant equality before law and human rights = solution to women’s problems
  • Women’s issues used to suit other political interests. Many Islamic parties opposed Megawati’s presidential bid: a woman could not be president of an ‘Islamic’ country
  • Underlying tension (the real issue): opposition of Islamic parties to someone from secular-nationalist stream to the presidency. That Mega was a woman, made it easier to construct the ‘political arguments’ against her
  • No unity among women, on top of conflicts between reform and status-quo groups, and within reform groups, so women’s issues slipped quietly away
women s political participation
Women’s Political Participation
  • Historically underrepresented: involved in struggle for independence, but then relegated back to ‘the kitchen’. In New Order marginalised by state ideology and KKN (e.g. parliamentary seats taken by wives and daughters of men in power)
  • In 1955, the only democratic election since 1999, in Indonesia’s brief period of liberal democracy (1949-58), women represented 2.9% of parliamentary candidates. In 1971, 4%…….. (check out more figures)
will the real islam stand up
Will the real Islam stand up?
  • 88% of people identify themselves as Muslim, but the streams of Islam in Indonesia are many, dozens and more
  • From Osama bin Laden look-alikes (in appearance as well as in ideology and political goal, to JIL (Jaringan Islam Liberal, Network of Liberal Muslims) who adopt a scholarly, intellectual, and liberal interpretation of Islam; sufi (spiritualist) and syncretic interpretations & practices
  • Islamic political parties and mass organizations, some aiming for Islamic state, others more inclusive
  • Rise of feminist interpretations of the Quran: publications (books, magazines), and organisations (mass and NGOs)
  • Majority moderate, but growing trend in Arabization: wearing of ‘Muslim’ attire for both men (koko shirt, cap, beard) and women (covered head to toe & headscarf) > fashion & identity
countervailing forces
Countervailing Forces
  • Conservative forces (traditional and religious) on the rise, claiming their rights and determined not to let their chances slip out of their yet again
  • At same time, Indonesia had grown up with the world (one of the positive aspects of globalisation and the information age), exposed to notions of democracy, freedom of expression, human, gender and sexual rights that came unfiltered through the media, cable TV, internet, pop culture, consumerism, free trade, global activism, group (e.g. NGOs) and personal relationships
  • At end of New Order, the conflict between conservative and progressive forces were already sharp, but in Reform Era, they became even more clearly defined
arenas of conflict
Arenas of Conflict
  • No longer focused in the arena of formal politics, although fights between political parties and parliament also very visible; also open debates in the press and law suits (?)
  • The state bowed to societal forces and merely attempted to arbitrate between interest groups
  • Two case studies:

1. Perda: regional regulations


identity politics
Identity Politics
  • In the Reform Era, the notion of ‘national identity’ and the authority of the state were shot, as ‘Suharto, family and cronies were the state, and they were out.
  • Deconstruction of power, social, political, economic structures, and search for new meanings (ideologies and beliefs) and negotiation of identities
  • Remember: global context after 9/11, hegemony of the US, terrorism & violence as expression of rampant anarchy
  • Three main elements (to replace ‘national identity’): ethnicity, religion, gender and their sexual components
decentralisation and regional autonomy
Decentralisation and Regional Autonomy
  • Reformasi: a promise to unravel the New Order and the legacy of state control. One of key mechanisms was the granting the regions various levels of autonomy
  • Buah simalakama (Catch 21), Pandora’s box or social dynamics? A necessity but full of perils
  • Three decades of repressed identities let out, exploded to the fore. In the regions often they were primordial, conservative, even reactionary
  • Wave of regional elections up to 2005: brought some of most radical changes Indonesia has experienced in decades
new and or old
New and/or old?
  • 219 local elections to date, some 40% resulted in the removal of old incumbents and the rise of new elites
  • New-but-old: these ‘new’ elites were in fact old elites redux, leaders pushed to one side in the New Order, reasserting themselves three decades later.
  • Invariably make, and deriving their authority from traditional local sources: adat ( traditional values/laws) and religion
  • Legitimacy fromconservative and socially-regressive value systems linked to local identity
  • In many regions these groups replacing the old Jakarta-endorsed bureaucrats, most who had strong secular, nationalist bent, and some level of commitment to a modernising agenda
strengthening local support
Strengthening Local Support
  • Local heroes want to differentiate themselves from the old apparatchiks
  • Strengthen local support by supporting or even leading local agendas sponsored by conservative/religious groups
  • Result: wave of attempts to introduce conservative interpretations of adat and syariah-derived moral norms through regional regulations (Perda - Peraturan Daerah) at the provincial, district and sub-district levels
  • Occurred mainly in Aceh, but social disruption not so significant as many of the norms underpinning the new Qanon (syariah-based laws) already internalised by the Acehnese
hierarchy of authority of laws
Hierarchy of Authority of Laws
  • Syariah: Gods law contained in Quran and the hadith (traditions/ sayings of prophet)
  • Fiqh/fikih: man-man interpretations of God’s law
  • Qanun: Acehnese perda, application of norms made into legislation, derived from fiqh, but also just governance laws (municipal laws, dispute resolution, education, health, etc). The term ‘qanun’ is derived from the Ottoman empire, which had Jews, Christians and Muslims, and there were separate laws for Muslims
creeping fiqhization in the regions
Creeping Fiqhization in the Regions
  • New regulatory regimes clearly inspired by Muslim hard-liners
  • Example:

1. drafting of Acehnese Qanun inspired by controversial and controversial codes introduced by PAS (Partai islam Se-Malaysia), rurally based, in Kelantan and Trengganu, poor backward rural states

2. Drafting of Islamic code for South Sulawesi in 2001, attended by Abu Bakar Basyir, recently returned from Malaysia

  • Defeat at national level: in 2002, proponents of Islamisation soundly defeated in the MPR (parliament) to re-insert the ‘Jakarta Charter’ (obligation for Muslims to apply syariah) into the constitution, deleted in 1945
jakarta charter under the radar
Jakarta Charter under the Radar
  • Failure at national level pushes hardliners to renew efforts to introduce legal grounds for syariah implementation at the local level, with some success
  • Implementation of perda in 42 districts in the regions of: Padang (South Sumatra), Cianjur (West Java), Bulukumba (South Sulawesi), Pamekasan (island of Madura, East Java), Tangerang, etc
  • Aim and target: to regulate behaviour as prescribed by ‘Islam’
  • Women victimised the most
perda some case studies
Perda: some case studies
  • Tangerang Morality Building: Tangerang, an industrial satelite of Jakarta, passed draconian laws against prostitution and drinking (except in 3 to 5-star hotels. By-laws No. 8/2005, bans people in public places, from persuading or coercing, either in words or gestures, acts of prostitution. Limits are also imposed on hemlines, which forbid schoolgirls from wearing skirts ending below the knees.
  • The much publicized case of a pregnant woman, waiting to be picked up by her husband, was arrested, and had to languish in prison for 4 days until her husband came to pick her up
  • Aceh: women having hair cut off for not wearing headscarf; caned for being caught with a man not her husband, etc
comments criticism against perda
Comments & criticismagainst Perda
  • Indra Pilliang (CSIS): A 2004 law gives central government the power to squash perda if they contravened national laws or the Constitution, but don’t because of fear of offending religious groups because they need their electoral support and for fear of inflaming conflict
  • Ryaas Rasyid (former regional autonomy minister): central govt should be more active in enforcing the law and determining if the regulations were illegal. Laws requiring women, even non-Muslims, to wear headscarves, should be abolished
  • Andi Yuliani Paris (National Mandate Party, Islamic party with secular platform): regulations that divide religious groups will sharpen conflict. A judicial review or class action could be filed against local administrations
central government stance toward perda
Central Government Stance toward Perda
  • Perda produced by local government according to regional autonomy laws, except religious affairs (and foreign affairs)
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs can strike out non-compliant perda, and have done so on a number of occassions, but have not done so with precisely the religious perda
  • Rumour has it that Susilo Bambang Yudoyono hates the perda, but doesn’t do anything about it because of fear of backlash from Islamic constituency
  • Politics as usual, just like in the New Order
victimises targets women
Victimises & Targets Women
  • Much of the perda restricts women’s behaviour and freedom and even criminalises them:

1. Clothing: not allowed to wear clothes that reveal hair, arms, thighs

2. Travel: cannot travel alone

3. Employment: cannot work at night

  • In the same way that State Ibuism marginalised and oppressed women, these local perdas produced by the local despots are doing the same
perda counter to democratization
Perda counter to Democratization
  • Irony: Reforms intended to give democracy and the right to a voice to milliosn of people silenced for decades under Suharto, may strip away the few rights they have
  • Against pluralism: what about non-Muslims?
  • Strips away freedom of ideas, expression and political participation fought so hard for by the opponents of Suharto
  • Regional conservatism not isolated Reflected in RUU APP - the Anti-Pornography and Anti-Pornoaction Bill being debated in DPR (People’s Representative Assembly)