Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Rights activists said Wednesday men should participate in efforts to eliminate violence against women amid an increase in the number of such cases.
In a discussion on violence against women, Syafiq Hasyim of the International Center for Islam and Pluralism, said efforts to tackle the violence would be more effective if men were more involved.
"Men should be involved because we need to know the reasons they commit violence, and how to change their way of thinking,
"In fact, men do not only act as perpetrators of violence, but are also victims of a patriarchal culture, in which men are superior to women, and they are trapped in it," he said.
"They commit violence because something inside them motivates them to do so, a sense of masculinity formed under a strong patriarchal culture."
Syafiq said encouraging men to get involved could be done using religion.
"To change their way of thinking, we can tell them it is forbidden by religious teachings to commit violence against women,"
However, Syafiq said, involving men would not be easy because they would likely get a negative response from women, especially feminists who consider men to be opponents.
"Feminists may also be worried men will take over or dominate their roles," he said.
Rena Herdiani of Kalyanamitra, an NGO dealing with women's issues, shared Syafiq's views.
She said despite the enactment of legal instruments, such as the 2004 law on the elimination of domestic violence and the ratified Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the number of reported cases of violence remained high.
"The problem is the legal instruments are not well implemented, and the government has yet to provide sufficient supporting facilities to help violence victims," she said.
"Many policies are still male-oriented and do not provide scope for women to play their (specific) roles."
Another problem, Rena said, was women rarely received positive responses after filing reports of violence.
"The high number of reported cases may also be interpreted as an increase in public awareness of the issue, so they are more responsive when they see violence in their neighborhood, or if they experience it themselves."
She said most people regarded violence against women, particularly domestic violence, as a personal problem rather than a social disorder, so were reluctant to get involved in its eradication.