On Corrupt Bureaucrats, Nikah Siri Marriages, and Indonesian Women

Late last year, Aceng Fikri, a district chief in the West Java province, ignited public uproar when news leaked that he had divorced a 17-year-old teenager, Fany Octora, via text message. Aceng had married Fany for only four days in an unregistered ceremony as a second wife. According to his lawyer, Aceng complained that Fany was not a virgin as she had said she had been. Aceng also complained that he had spent 250 million rupiah ($26,000) on their wedding and additional expenses to enrol Fany … [Read more...]

Victims, Criminals, Heroines: Indonesian Domestic Workers in Singapore


A few months ago, I came across an article about how more Burmese domestic workers in Singapore were running away from exploitative conditions. The caption of the photo told me a lot about how the mainstream media in Singapore (heavily controlled by the government) viewed these domestic workers as as causing a ‘commotion.’ This reminded me of research I had previously done as part of my Master’s thesis on Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore, where I analysed how mainstream media viewed these … [Read more...]

Muslim Women in Development Literature


I recently came across a publication by Cordaid, a Dutch development organisation, called "Looking for That Other Face: Women Muslim Leaders and Violent Extremism in Indonesia" (available here). This publication recounts the stories of six quadragenarian Muslim feminists from three islands of Indonesia (Aceh, Java and Lombok): Ibu Umi Hanisah (Meulaboh), Badriyah Fayumi (Kota Bekasi), Enung Nursaidah Ilyas (Tasik Malaya), Inayah Rohmaniyah (Jogjakarta), Nyi Ruqqoyah (Bondowoso), and Aini Masruri … [Read more...]

Running for Boston in Jakarta


The weeks following the Boston bombing have been filled with media reports with all-too-familiar suspicion of Islam and --as Nicole explored in a recent post-- hijab-wearing Muslim women.However, both local and international media largely missed an act of activism from my part of the world that had taken place even before Ann Coulter appeared on TV with her infamous “ought to be in prison for wearing the hijab” comment.A friend of mine, Indonesian blogger Ninit Yunita, is an avid runner w … [Read more...]

Getting to know the Sexual Muslimah


When I converted to Islam, before Love Inshallah (which Merium reviewed last year) and Sex and the Citadel, I was immersed in a religious culture that had an ambivalent relationship with sex and sexuality. While the women in my community occasionally discussed matters of “lawful” vs. “prohibited” when it came to sex, they were also making use of Alberta’s Bill 44 to take their daughters out of sexual education classes, which some of them considered immoral and dangerous.As a teenager, I recei … [Read more...]

Tweeting Change the Fahira Idris Way

Fahira Idris. [Source].

This post was written by guest contributor Afia R. Fitriati (@AfiaRF)In a similar manner that social media helped to catalyze the Arab Spring, Indonesians are increasingly using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach out to others, build awareness of social issues, harness support and eventually create positive changes that the country needs.One of the forerunners in Indonesia’s social media activism scene is Mme.Fahira Idris. Born as the daughter of real estate t … [Read more...]

Inspiring Beauty? A Critique of Wardah Cosmetics’ Ad Campaigns

Advertisement for Wardah Cosmetics. [Source].

This post was written by guest contributor Afia R. Fitriati (@AfiaRF).The gaffes in the latest ad campaign of Indonesia-based Wardah Cosmetics are as clear as daylight – so clear that a student in my marketing class had raised an issue with it even before I had the chance to see the commercials.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7Css9izUYY"If their selling point is halal – and thus Muslim-friendly – cosmetics, then why do they promote skin-lightening products? Isn't it discriminatory to … [Read more...]