In Indonesia, men don mini-skirts to end violence against women

Indonesia’s all-male, women’s rights campaign group “New Men’s Alliance” is out on a mission to eliminate violence against women in a deeply patriarchal society – and these heroes are wearing mini-skirts for a change.

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Activists from the New Men’€™s Alliance protest at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta. The group strives for women’€™s rights on the assumption that the patriarchal mentality that supports men’€™s dominance also harms men.

“Too often it’s about the way women dress or the way they behave. So we thought if it’s really about mini-skirts, how about men wearing them?”  

Syaldi Sahude recalls how he was left speechless eight years ago when he came across a study that showed 85 percent of Indonesian women who have suffered violence at the hands of their partners remain in the relationship. Astonished, Sahude discussed the subject with his friends as he sought an explanation – and then he realized something was missing. “There were women’s empowerment, legal aid and trauma programs for survivors but the root cause of this is men,” said Sahude, who was working at a women’s rights group at the time. More discussions followed with like-minded activist friends, and a year later a campaign group Aliansi Laki-laki Baru – or the New Men’s Alliance – was born.

…85 percent of Indonesian women who have suffered violence at the hands of their partners remain in the relationship.

The men-led campaign has taken on eliminating violence against women as their mission – challenging a deep-rooted and often hidden issue in Indonesia’s patriarchal society.  Through online campaigns, public rallies, discussions and counselling targeted at men, they challenge misconceptions about masculinity and broach subjects such as sexual identity, rape and consent. While the activities are also open to women, their main targets are men and boys, groups that women’s rights campaigners have traditionally had difficulties reaching, Sahude said.

Neng Dara Affiah, a commissioner from Komnas Perempuan (the National Commission on Violence Against Women) says, ‘€œOn behalf of Komnas Perempuan I can say that we support the ALLB (The New Men’s Alliance), because the eradication of violence against women will never happen if men don’€™t support that. I hope they can expand their territory to reach more people.’€

…’the eradication of violence against women will never happen if men don’€™t support that. I hope they can expand their territory to reach more people.’€

Activists say cases of violence against women have been on the rise although the real scale remains hard to gauge in the Southeast Asian country of 250 million people. There were 321,752 such cases in 2015 – including domestic violence and sexual assaults – a threefold surge from 105,103 in 2010, according to the government-backed National Commission of Violence Against Women. The commission said the figure, compiled mainly based on complaints lodged with religious courts, was just the tip of the iceberg as many women lack the resources or are too afraid to report abuse. 

A 2013 United Nations study in Asia showed nearly half of 10,000 men interviewed in six countries – including Indonesia – had used physical or sexual violence against a female partner, while nearly a quarter had raped a woman or girl. The tendency towards sexual violence is common in cultures where male toughness is celebrated and men have a sense of sexual entitlement, it found.

The New Men’s Alliance initiative (ALLB)  is one of many around the world aimed at engaging boys and men to tackle violence against women. ALLB takes this issue one step further and cooperates closely to counsel male perpetrators of violence against women with various women’€™s organizations, including Rifka Annisa and Cahaya Perempuan Bengkulu, which coordinate their activities with law enforcement and correctional institutions.

Our campaign, “Free Yourself” Healing Families; Ending Domestic Violence”, also recognizes the importance of working with and including the voices of recovering abusers in order to strengthen our ability to understand, address, and end the cycle of domestic abuse. Learn more about our campaign in the short video below. 

 

Click here for the full article on The New Men’s Alliance in Indonesia.

Click here for more info on how the Men and Masculinity Collective in Colombia uses theatre and music to challenge gender stereotypes.

 

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