Opinion 2, Edition 41

Maesur Zaky, SHI, MA: Female Adolescents are Vulnerable to Violence

Maesur Zaky, SHI, MA, currently serves as the Executive Director of Indonesian Family Planning Association (PKBI) Yogyakarta. The man who was born in Banyumas on May 26, 1980, has been for a long time concerning on the issue of sexual and reproductive health at PKBI precisely since he was still in the 8th semester in 2001 when actively being a volunteer until the last position he serves right now. Zaki, his nickname, completed his undergraduate degree from the Department of Criminal and Politics (Jinayah and Siyasah) of Sharia Faculty at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic Institute (IAIN) Yogyakarta (1998-2004) and earned his Master’s degree from the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies or CRCS UGM (2004-2006). He got married to Rif’atul Ilmiyah, S.S., who was also an alumnus of IAIN Sunan Kalijaga. The following is the interview with the father of two daughters, Laras Aika Tazkia (5 years old) and Kayla Kasyfa Tazkia (2 years old): 

Currently, the phenomena of sexual violence among adolescents tend to increase. What is your opinion?

First, I want to see this issue from a structural perspective. These phenomena show that the state or the government is not really serious to protect the adolescents to get a security from any kind of violence, especially sexual violence. There has been a rule of law and legislation to snare the perpetrators of violence. However, the law enforcers (structure of law) do not have adequate sensitivity to protect the victims. What usually happens is, based on the experience in the accompaniment conducted by PKBI DIY, the adolescents who become the victims are stigmatized as a “teaser” which then—due to such a wrong assumption—may liberate or at least relieve the perpetrator of violence. 

Second, from a socio-cultural point of view, I see that the adolescents are vulnerable to violence. This is due to the unavailability of educational opportunities for them to understand more deeply about their body and how to maintain and to protect themselves from any kind of threats and risks of violence. The ability to detect earlier on the acts of violence and how they make protection for themselves have not been formally taught at the school level. I think, apart from a comprehensive understanding on reproduction and sexuality, it must be an important agenda in the future in the education sector for the adolescents to be able to prevent the violence, whether to prevent as a victim or as a perpetrator. 

The data in the Religious Courts indicate that there are plenty of cases on the plea of marriage dispensation for the bride or groom who is still under the minimum age of marriage. In many cases, the plea was made because of ‘Marriage by Accident’ (MBA) and one of which is because of Violence in Dating. What is your opinion?

In the case of pregnancy due to violence in dating, I think the girl has become a double victim. First is the victim of violence committed by her mate. Second is the victim of the family law system in Indonesia that still enables the women to be affected by the risks of reproduction because they are “forced” to marry at the age where their reproductive organ, especially the cervix, is still immature. If such case occurs, the greater risk to be infected by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) which causes a cancer of cervix may affect the women. 

In addition is a psychological risk or depression if they do not want their pregnancy. Without serious knowledge and accompaniment, they are very likely to fall into a further reproduction risk that is committing unsafe abortion which may lead to pain and even a death.

What is your response to one of the articles in the Compilation of Islamic Law (KHI) which justifies a marriage while the bride is being pregnant? How if the pregnancy is the result of violence in dating?

If the logic of the answer to the aforesaid question (no 2) is used, then the reason to justify a marriage for adolescent as a result of a pregnancy is void. This is because such marriage will then bring worse effects for the girls. They are likely affected by a greater risk of the cancer of the cervix or other reproductive risks due to immature reproductive organs moreover if the pregnancy occurs due to a compulsion or even violence.

Thus, in such situation, preventing the possibility of worse effects should be the main priority rather than attempting to seek the benefit of marriage due to pregnancy like to conceal a shame or to keep a good name. In the principle of Islamic Jurisprudence, it is called dar’u l al-mafasid muqaddamun ‘ala jalbi al-mashalih meaning “preventing any harm is prioritized that taking an advantage”. 

What are the roles of parents, teachers, schools, peer-groups, and communities to anticipate the case of violence in dating?

First is the necessity of open-minded attitude in regard to adolescents’ sexuality. With such attitude, the relationships among the adolescents, such as dating, can be easier to understand and control. While a close-minded which considers the relationships among the adolescents as a taboo will just open up the opportunities for them to explore and to do an experiment without control which can increase the risk of violence or other risky actions. In such situation, the girls will always be the victims.

Second, the openness needs to be facilitated by a system that can protect the adolescents from violence. The nearest system is, of course, the formal educational system or school. There must be a program or services for the adolescents that enable for mutual learning among the parties about the sexual development and reproduction of the adolescents and the relationships related to it, such as dating. What needs to be underlined is such system can only work when a comprehensive education of sexual and reproductive health for the adolescents has become an integral part of the education’s curriculum.

What are the supports need to be given to the parties when they deal with the cases of violence in dating?

When the violence in dating occurs, at least they are not supposed to stigmatize the victim and that is it. As if it is easy but practically it is not as easy as what we can imagine. There is always a stigma which is still addressed to the victim. For that purpose, the necessity of education for the parties to get a better understanding of the circumstances of violence in dating  is very important.

It would be ideal if the parties give a psychosocial support through counseling for the victims so that they are able to face the cases of violence and could determine the best way including the courage to report the perpetrator of violence to the law enforcer. That is why the parties should be equipped with a better understanding with regard to the scheme or the process of advocacy of violence in dating cases which can be accessed by the adolescents.

What are your expectations to the adolescents so that the cases of violence in dating can be minimized and even eliminated?

I hope the adolescents can learn through the organization which is established by them, from them, and for them to fight for their rights so that they can demand to the government. The right is including protection from violence as well as the right to a comprehensive education on reproduction and sexuality.

By fulfilling the rights of the adolescents, we hope that there will be a condition in which, on the one hand, empowers the adolescents not to be the victims of violence, and on the other hand, minimizes the possibility of the adolescents to become the perpetrators of violence in dating. 

What is your hope for the government in order to give more attention to the fulfillment of the rights of the adolescents for sexual and reproductive health?

A commitment by the government is needed in the fulfillment of the right of the adolescents for sexual and reproductive health. First, the government should be convinced that this issue is not taboo and will not make the adolescents act more freely if they learn about it. Contrarily, with the fulfillment of the right to sexual and reproductive health, the adolescents will have more responsible attitude and actions.

Second, the government needs to be convinced that the orientation of education which merely to improve operational skills for future careers is not enough. They need to be equipped with life skills in relation to reproduction and sexuality. Not only to reduce the risk of reproduction and sexuality for today, but also to prepare the life of adolescents in the future, especially for those who want to marry. 

What efforts should we do in order that the issue of sexual and reproductive health becomes a mutual concern, especially among governments, educational institutions such as schools and pesantren, religious communities and peer groups among the adolescents?

We need to keep insisting the government and our society with evidence of the effectiveness of education of sexual and reproductive health in reducing the risks of sexual and reproduction. Show the facts to them.

Then, we need to continue to facilitate and strengthen the adolescents to be able to express their need to all stakeholders with regard to the necessity of such education. This is conducted by strengthening adolescents’ organizations. Show them that this is the needs and rights of the adolescents which need to be fulfilled by the state.

While implementing those two strategies, the dialogues which enable the alignment between the value of education of sexual and reproductive health with that of the religious education must be continuously established. Such dialogues are intended to reduce the “moral panic” on the phenomena of adolescents which often starts from a narrow viewpoint. We must be able to ensure that the values ​​and moralities contained in the education of sexual and reproductive health can coexist with those contained in the education with religious basis or culture of the archipelago (Nusantara). [] AD. Kusumaningtyas

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