Generalizing statements on gender issues are almost impossible due to the country’s great ethnic heterogeneity. For example, matrilineal traditions have been preserved in individual parts of the country – in most of the others men have a much stronger role, which nevertheless can turn out very differently depending on social class.
Women in Indonesia give birth to an average of 2.3 children – in 1980 the figure was more than 5 children per woman.
In 2018, Indonesia was ranked 116th out of 189 countries in the UNDP Gender Inequality Index.
The proportion of women in the current national parliament (2019) is 21% (Germany: 31%).
The sexual violence against women has in has increased in recent years – especially in the cities. This also applies to sexual violence against children. Child marriages are still widespread outside the metropolitan areas.
Although the majority of the population professes Islam, polygamy is rather rare and is increasingly socially ostracized.
Divorce is possible, but it takes a lot of courage for both men and women because they still have a major flaw.
Due to the increasing influence of Islamic rhetoric in politics, there are increasing attempts in national politics to restrict sexual freedom. Representatives of the Indonesian Constitutional Court called for a law in September 2016 to make premarital intercourse and homosexuality a criminal offense. However, this was rejected in a final decision in December 2017 – even if only with a majority of one vote.
The homophobia in particular in recent significantly increased five years. Homosexual people and transsexuals are increasingly exposed to increasing social pressure, especially from Islamist circles, to return to a more “godly” life and are increasingly victims of violent attacks. However, homophobic attitudes are also increasing overall, which has recently been increasingly expressed through homophobic statements by politicians. Unlike in most countries with an Islamic majority, homosexuality is not a criminal offense under national law. Demands to change this are becoming increasingly common in the public and in politics.
Many consider homosexuality primarily a sexual disorder. In 2016, however, several ministers called for stronger action against homosexuality. Vice President Jusuf Kalla called on the UNDP development program to end all programs in favor of LGBT groups.
The world’s only Koran school for transsexuals was closed in 2016 due to pressure from Islamist circles. The once largely open homosexual scene has largely disappeared from the public eye due to hate campaigns.
According to historyaah, 49% of all Indonesian women under the age of 15 are circumcised. The forms of female genital mutilation practiced in Indonesia generally do not have the same dire consequences as many of the variants practiced in Africa.
According to an estimate by Terre de Femmes, around 2 million girls are genitally mutilated every year. In two thirds of the cases, it is midwives who symbolically cut, scratch or mutilate girls (91% infants) their genitals (44%).
In 2016 the government started a campaign aimed at ending the practice of female genital cutting. This campaign is supported by the Indonesian women’s movement, which otherwise cannot be equated in its goals with Western women’s movements.
In Indonesia there is a separate women’s day, Kartini day. Raden Adjeng Kartini was a young noblewoman from Solo who was married to an older man at the beginning of the 20th century and built the first girls’ school within the palace walls. She was best known for the publication of letters she wrote to friends in Holland.
In recent years, prostitution has been increasingly combated at both national and regional level. Many “disreputable” neighborhoods have since been closed, also under pressure from Islamist Muslims.
After strong civil protests, the Indonesian government decided in 2019 to withdraw a draft law criminalizing extramarital intercourse.
Compared to many neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, the Philippines or Cambodia, international prostitution tourism is of little importance in Indonesia.
There are a large number of NGOs in Indonesia that deal with gender issues. Numerous women’s organizations fight for gender equality. Indonesia also has its own women’s day, the “Hari Kartini” on April 21st, on which Raden Ajeng Kartini is commemorated; a women’s rights activist who opened the first girls’ school in colonial times.
Before national law, men and women are largely treated equally, with a few exceptions in family law. Nevertheless, women are clearly discriminated against in many areas of public life. The fact that 30% of the candidates in the election lists must be women in elections has not changed that. The proportion of women in parliaments is still only 17.1%. It is much more difficult for women to achieve important political positions.
In individual regions (e.g. Aceh), the strengthening of Islamic courts and the creation of district ordinances lead to considerable restrictions on the freedom of movement of women.
In October 2008, after a long and heated discussion, Parliament passed the so-called ” Anti-Pornography Act “, in which the term pornography is defined much more broadly than before. Among other things, the “erotic representation of body parts” is now a punishable offense. Since the law openly calls on the public to take action against amorality, it was feared that Islamists would increasingly bring lawsuits against women in the following years who did not dress in a manner that conformed to Islam (from the Islamists’ point of view).
In principle, it would now also be possible to forbid the wearing of a number of traditional costumes of non-Islamic ethnic groups.
In practice, however, this law has so far been used extremely rarely, for example in the so-called “Peter Porn” trial against the singer of the band “Peter Pan”, which is popular in Indonesia. An Islamist leader was also charged.
Quite a few moderate Indonesian Muslims see no contradiction between homosexuality and Islam. However, since the anti-pornography law was passed, the pressure from the Islamist side on Indonesian homosexuals has also increased. In the province of Aceh, homosexuality is punished with lashes. Although there is a diverse transgender tradition in Indonesia, this group is increasingly being threatened by Islamist fundamentalists.