“Women’s Activism Against Violence in South Sulawesi”
Prior to the reform era (1998) the issue of violence against women in Indonesia was largely neglected. Post-1998 the women’s movement in Indonesia began to focus on the issue of violence against women in both the public and the domestic sphere. This chapter examines the efforts of women activists in combating such violence, with a specific focus on the South Sulawesi region. It looks at both the national dimensions of violence against women and also the specific kinds of violence that arise the in the dominant Bugis-Makassar society. The chapter stress the importance of national-level discourses and national political coalitions in finding ways of dealing with violence and in arguing for social and legal changes to address violence against women. It concludes that violence against women in South Sulawesi can be viewed as being bound up with local values about appropriate female behaviour, and the connection between female virtue and family honour (siri’). However, South Sulawesi has followed other parts of Indonesia in experiencing an explosion of concern about violence against women as a public issue. While women’s NGOs have been at the forefront of protests challenging men’s perpetration of violence against women, increasing media reports of violence, student protests and mass anger directed towards rapists indicate that men too are beginning to confront the problem. The growing public debate has led to an increase in media reporting of violence and sexual assaults against women, providing the means by which violence is challenged.