Every year Indonesians celebrate Kartini day in the name of women’s movement. But do we really mean it? Has Kartini day became a mere costume party day festival? I always see R.A Kartini as a woman from the late 19th century with thoughts centuries ahead of her own time. Lately though, I see her as a woman with thoughts way ahead of our time.
Let’s do a quick check on how Indonesian women are doing. Ok, so we see them in a more empowering positions, girls can go to universities, they can choose the career they love … but wait, those are only for girls from privileged families. They’re the minorities. The majorities snatched very low-income jobs, sent overseas as maids, trafficked for prostitution and of course, sold to Taiwan as brides!
And recently, we’re shocked with news like this 40-something year old rich man known as Syekh Puji, who insisted on marrying a 12-years old girl.
Those men in army-like uniforms are his bodyguards or whatever.
One of his hobbies, besides collecting wives, is collecting BMWs.
What I found even more irritating is that he got plenty of sympathy for his action, and that the girl’s parents actually agreed on the marriage.
Syekh Puji aside, there is another practice that in my opinion is no difference from prostitution called kawin kontrak (short-term marriages, can be as short as a week or several days). It’s a practice that is becoming popular recently among the Arab businessmen or mere tourists who needed some sexual release in Indonesia. I hate how some people actually think that this practice is okay. It is not okay, it is a slap in the face for our country. And yet, more parents and women are agreeing to the kawin kontrak deals, mostly for money. Ironically, they made a comedy movie out of it. Kawin Kontrak became a big-screen hit.
My point is, Indonesian women still need a lot of catching up to do, not just the women actually, the whole society needs to catch up. We’re not even close to that ‘light’ that Kartini dreamt of.