One of the reasons for Indonesia’s hidden epidemic of domestic violence are cultural taboos surrounding the subject, which not only prevent victims from speaking out but also make it less likely for authorities to act.
It’s unclear if that was a factor in the death of a man who was found brutally murdered in East Java’s Madiun regency on Sunday, but police have disclosed that the victim had twice reported his wife, who authorities have been unable to locate since his body was discovered, for alleged incidences of domestic violence.
Darwin Susanto, who worked as a motorcycle taxi driver for an app-based ride hailing service, was found dead at a shop in Madiun’s Pandean Village on Sunday night. According to police, his body was found lying on the ground with multiple severe wounds to his face and blood splattered all around his body. Authorities said his corpse has been taken to a hospital to undergo an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Yesterday, Madiun Police Chief Ruruh Wicaksono confirmed to the media that Darwin had twice reported his wife for domestic violence, but said that the evidence for his reports was minimal.
“Right now, we are focusing on finding out the cause of death,” Ruruh said yesterday as quoted by Kompas, adding that his officers were currently searching for Darwin’s wife. No further details about Darwin’s previous reports of domestic violence have been disclosed to the public.
Some have criticized the police in Indonesia for being reluctant to act on reports of domestic violence, prioritizing attempts at reaching peaceful conflict resolutions between husbands and wives over pressing criminal charges.
In a case which may hold certain parallels to the murder in Madiun, a doctor in Jakarta was shot dead by her husband in November 2017 after she told him she planned to divorce him. The doctor’s family said her husband had been physically abusive numerous times and police admitted that she had reported the abuse and even used evidence from their investigation as evidence in her divorce filing in the religious court.
However, police claimed they had never pursued criminal charges against the husband because the victim had “made peace” with her husband. The murder victim’s family fiercely denied that and said they were still waiting for police to pursue domestic violence charges against him up until the day of the shooting.
Speaking to Tempo in 2017 about the issue of male victims of domestic violence in Indonesia, Anggia Chrisanti, a counselor and therapist at the Westaria Psychology Consultation Bureau, said that cultural bias made it difficult for male victims to report domestic violence as they were more likely to be met with mockery than actual concern.
“Because of this, many male victims of domestic violence are not revealed to the public. The causes include pride, shame, concern they won’t be believed, and a reluctance by many institutions to respond and handle cases of domestic violence in which the victims are male,” Anggia said.