Too many divorces? Indonesian politician says why not educate women on how to be good wives?

Screenshot of West Bandung Vice Regent Hengky Kurniawan Instagram post about “School for Mothers” program. Photo: Instagram/@hengkykurniawan
Screenshot of West Bandung Vice Regent Hengky Kurniawan Instagram post about “School for Mothers” program. Photo: Instagram/@hengkykurniawan

We truly hope some elected officials aren’t true reflections of our society if they come up with programs like this.

Hengky Kurniawan, a former sinetron (Indonesian soap opera) actor turned vice regent of West Bandung in West Java, recently took to Instagram to bemoan his regency’s rising divorce rate. And it seems — to him anyway — that women are to blame and therefore must be educated, as this highly controversial viral Instagram post shows:

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Dari 5 – 30 November 2018, Kasus perceraian di KBB sebanyak 244 Kasus. Kalo di rata2 berarti setiap harinya ada 9 – 10 orang yang mendaftarkan perceraian. Ini menjadi masalah yang serius bagi kami Pemerintah Kabupaten Bandung Barat. InshaaAllah di tahun 2019 kami meluncurkun Program “ Sekolah Ibu “. Tujuan didirikanya sekolah ibu untuk memberikan pemahaman tentang berumah tangga, bagaimana menghadapi suami, menahan emosi, bagaimana berkomunikasi dengan anak – anak kita yang beranjak dewasa, dan banyak materi lainya yang nanti akan diajarkan di sekolah ibu. InshaaAllah “ Sekolah ibu “ tidak akan membosankan. Ibu – ibu makin sayang suami, kompak dengan anak, dan tentunya keluarga akan lebih bahagia. InshaaAllah…. @aa.umbara @ridwankamil @humas_kbb

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“From November 5-20, 2018, there were 244 divorce cases in West Bandung Regency. On average, that amounts to 9-10 people who apply for divorce per day. This is a serious problem for the West Java Regency. God willing, we’ll launch a “Sekolah Ibu” (“School for Mothers”) program in 2019. We aim to give understanding about household life, how to deal with husbands, control their emotions, how to communicate with children who are growing up, and many other topics,” Hengky wrote in the post.

“God willing, “School for Mothers” won’t be boring. Women will love their husbands more, become close with their children, and of course their families will be happier,” Hengky added, before mentioning the Instagram accounts of West Bandung Regent Aa Umbara Sutisna and West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil.

While Hengky probably thinks he had good intentions behind the program, he totally missed the point: family doesn’t consist of one person only  it takes every member to pull their weight in order to create loving harmony.

Seeing the language Hengky used in his caption, one may think that he placed the blame for the regency’s high divorce rates on women for not being able to keep their families together. Understandably, the post got huge backlash from men and women alike.

Problem: A lot of divorce cases; Solution: Mothers should go to school again

Then when there will be “School for Fathers” program? To give understanding to fathers that household doesn’t only consist of a mother and children, but also himself as the head of the family who’s responsible to keep their harmony, needs to learn on how to deal with his wife, control their emotion, communicate with children who are growing up, and many other materials that need to be taught to fathers. God willing, “School for Fathers” wouldn’t be boring. Fathers will love their wives even more, become close with their children, and of course their families will be happier.”

Mas Hengky Kurniawan, I work at Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection. May I ask for “School for Mothers” curriculum in detail? Because as far as I know, the rest of the world have been working to increase men’s role in women protection. So please don’t flip it over. Thanks

Probably realizing that his planned initiative wasn’t as well received by the public as he might have hoped, Hengky posted a photo of his wife on Instagram and praised her in the caption before attempting to show gender equality in another post.

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Wilujeng enjing… Untuk para suami, sayangi dan hargai istrimu.. Suami adalah pemimpin keluarga. Pemimpin tentu pekerjaan mulia. Dibutuhkan kematangan spiritual dalam menjalankannya. Mari kita hargai istri dengan menempatkan mereka dalam posisi yang benar-benar memartabatkannya. Cukup merangkulnya ketika menjalankan kepemimpinanmu, ajak bicara dari hati kehati, ucapkan kata yang santun, bagi peran dalam rumah tangga, stop bicara dengan tangan, dan pujilah jika pantas dipuji. Satu lagi yang tak kalah penting, mintalah saran bagaimana kepemimpinanmu bekerja. Biar kita sebagai suami, tidak selalu merasa benar sendiri. Kadang kepemimpinan yang kita emban, selalu mendorong kita sombong, dhalim, dan tak peka sama yang dipimpin.. #marikitarenungkan #untuksuami

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“Good morning… to all husbands, love and honor your wives… Husbands are the head of the family. Being a leader is an honorable job, we need to have spiritual maturity to do it. Let’s place our wives in their honorable position,” he wrote.

It’s not yet known if Hengky will go ahead with the “School for Mothers” program amid all the outrage leveled against him. We hope he won’t, because, to put it bluntly, that program is as outrageous as it is pathetically misogynistic.

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