The concept of marital rape is one that is unfamiliar to many Indonesians, with some conservative activists and politicians even arguing against a bill seeking to provide greater protections to victims of the crime on the basis that it was not compatible with traditional norms. Such mindsets are a part of the reason for Indonesia’s hidden epidemic of domestic violence, but a few recent news stories have cast a new spotlight on the issue.
Last week saw a disturbing story about a husband who slit his wife’s throat, in front of their young child, because she refused to have sex with him. Today, there’s a new story getting national attention concerning a woman who allegedly attacked her husband with an ax because he was forcing her to have sex.
The suspect in the case, a 43-year-old woman identified by authorities as Aminah, was arrested after the attack took place yesterday and is still in custody at the Cikidang Police Station in Sukabumi, West Java, undergoing investigation. According to police, the mother of three said she attacked her husband, 47-year-old Maman, because he constantly demanded sex, despite the fact that she had just given birth to their third child two months ago.
“According to her, she had just given birth and was not yet on birth control, while her husband kept asking for jatah ‘emen’ (which could be roughly translated as “sex quota”). She served her husband but finally she became so stressed because of her fatigue that she finally stabbed him,” Cikidang Police Chief Sunarto said today as quoted by Detik.
Maman was reportedly severely injured in the attack, but police say he is currently in stable condition at a hospital. Authorities said they still needed to question him and other witnesses before pressing charges.
In a similar case that gained attention last week, a resident of North Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok neighborhood was arrested for violently assaulting his wife. According to the police, the attack came after she refused to have sex with him.
Marital rape is not illegal under Indonesia’s Criminal Code but it is criminalized by the Domestic Violence Protection Act. However, marital rape carries a higher burden of proof and a lower maximum punishment than rape outside of marriage.
Women’s rights activists have been pushing the government to pass the Elimination of Sexual Violence Bill, which would enforce harsher punishments for perpetrators of gender-based violence and provides greater protections for victims of crimes such as marital rape. However, conservative activists and politicians have fought to block the bill by framing it as being permissive towards sex outside of marriage and supporting LGBT rights.