More equality, diversity make a better Indonesia

    Accepting women’s rights is never easy. Fifty years ago, the accepted wisdom in the Western world was that a woman’s place was in the kitchen (and elsewhere inside the house).

    By Mario Rustan ,The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
    March 10, 2015, 12:01 am TWN

    In university, I was pretty clueless when doing compulsory reading on the “Beijing Declaration,” as the texts were pretty advanced; discussions on contrasting views of the declaration were full of specialist terms, insider references and difficult concepts.

    Basically, I was not interested in feminism. The Fourth World Conference on Women, the most recent one, was held by the U.N. in September 1995 in Beijing, China.

    Its Beijing Declaration states that women’s participation in society and politics is fundamental for development, social equality and peace. It equates women’s rights with human rights.

    It encourages governments to cooperate with NGOs and civic communities to help the U.N. fulfill its action plans. The conference also provided dialogues between indigenous women’s rights activists (mostly white women) and indigenous activists (mostly indigenous men).

    The world was a mixed place in 1995. Indonesia was excited with globalization, although people were wondering about life after Suharto. China and Russia were on cordial terms with the U.S. despite conflicting views on Taiwan and Tibet and the war between Serbia and Bosnia. One day after the conference, three British soldiers in Cyprus raped and killed a Danish tourist guide.

    Accepting women’s rights is never easy. Fifty years ago, the accepted wisdom in the Western world was that a woman’s place was in the kitchen (and elsewhere inside the house).

    International Women’s Day, now celebrated on March 8, a socialist idea that started in the U.S., Australia and Western Europe in the early 20th century, was adopted as a national holiday by communist states.

    It’s not that communist parties supported feminism, but they wanted to celebrate the role of women in supporting communism — as mothers, workers and soldiers. Indeed, many citizens of ex-communist countries see the International Women’s Day as a relic of the bad old days.

    I used to see feminists like many people do — men-haters, confusing, self-absorbed and far left. In 1995, feminists themselves were tangled in controversies and conflicts on every possible issue — the status of transgender women, white and non-white feminists, relations with men, pornography and prostitution.

    But now a feminist can sing to Taylor Swift or Beyonce on karaoke night, share cake recipes and banter with her biracial transgender friend on Twitter.

    Although there’s no “official” announcement, many feminists believe that feminism is on its fourth wave, or generation, away from the angry and contentious 1990s.

    The state of security and welfare for women and children worldwide does not look bright in March 2015. Look at Indonesia. A rising movie star was recorded illegally in a bathroom when she was a teenager.

    Yet after days debating if it was her or a look-alike, major news and entertainment websites and TV programs made bombastic headlines (“nude video” was the common phrase), as if the video was recorded with her consent.

    More seriously, a serial rapist married his underage victim in Bintan before the police, and a female teacher is on trial on the charge of molesting a male toddler.

    Twenty years after the Beijing Declaration, a new BBC documentary on the rape and brutal murder of Indian student Jyoti Singh shows the twisted mind of a rapist. One of her rapists, Mukesh Singh, said that she was the one to blame for staying outside at night; she was taking a bus home at 8:30 p.m. after watching a movie in a mall. He blamed her for resisting, saying it was the reason he and his friends killed her sadistically. His lawyers said that women have no place in Indian culture.