Memilih: Yang Baik Dari Yang Buruk

11 07 2014

Yuforia Pemilu masih riuh-rendah di Indonesia, bahkan teman-teman sesama WNI di luar negeri pun seakan tak mau kalah, ikut « berpesta » demokrasi, yang katanya paling seru dalam sejarah peta demokrasi di negara ini. Bagaimana tidak, karena 2 kandidat calon presiden Indonesia ini masing-masing memiliki kharisma yang kuat bagi masing-masing simpatisannya.

Saya adalah salah satunya, bukan warga negara yg cukup vocal mendukung salah satu CaPres, saya malah cenderung pasif menyuarakan « suara » saya. Cukup memantau saja, walaupun terkadang sampe membelalakan mata dan mengerenyitkan dahi. Yang jelas, saya sih berpegang pada prinsip ‘Rahasia’, jadi kalau ada yg bertanya: « Pilih siapa Ham? », jawab saya pasti: « Ada deh..Rahasia dong ».

Ini pun termasuk dengan ayah saya yg ‘berkampanye’ tentang capres nya kepada saya, yang kebetulan berbeda dengan pilihan saya. Lama kelamaan saya sampai suatu titik dimana saya bertanya, seberapa yakin ya saya dengan pilihan saya?

Beberapa pekan yang lalu saya punya kesempatan berbincang dengan seorang teman. Tentang bagaimana harusnya kita menyikapi pesta demokrasi. Kami berbincang santai tentang « The What If’s ». Menurut teman saya ini, pemilu kali ini memang berat sekali karena masing-masing sama-sama kuat, visi-misinya, basis simpatisannya, hingga cara berkampanye yang kadang juga membuat saya geleng-geleng kepala.

Inti pembicaraan kami yg bisa saya simpulkan adalah, bahwa kedua capres bukan dewa, masing-masing juga punya kekurangan, begitupun orang-orang dibelakangnya. Pemilu itu baratnya memilih yg baik dari yg buruk, bukan yg terbaik dari yg terbaik. Saya juga pernah skeptis terhadap skema politik di Indonesia, tapi saya percaya masih ada kok orang baik di negeri ini. Orang baik yang percaya hal baik sekecil apa pun dapat mengubah cara pandang kita terhadap dunia. Persis seperti tulisan saya tepat 5 tahun yg lalu, yg di inspirasi oleh kisah pribadi saya, malam sebelum pemilu 5 tahun yg lalu. (Pemilu 2009

Siapapun presidennya, sebanyak apapun « What If’s » yg bisa kita uraikan akan tetap menjadi what if bila kita, khususnya yg masih muda, menginginkan perubahan negara kita kearah yg lebih baik yg dimulai dengan revolusi mental masing-masing indvidu kita dulu.

Teman saya itu juga menambahkan, yang penting adalah siapapun pilihannya, sebisa mungkin cuma ada 1 putaran, karena anggaran negara yg besar itu akan lebih bermanfaat untuk hal lain daripada pemilu 2 putaran. Nah saya setuju sekali dengan yg ini…



Female Circumcision: Derived from An Explicable Tradition

24 06 2011

“Yes Sir, you should know it is a compulsory for women to undergone female circumcision, because women have high libido,” said a taxi driver that drove us back from the hospital yesterday (06/20/11), after taking my 2 months old niece for regular immunisation shot. His statement that based on religious reasons on why female should have the circumcision procedure agitated me somehow, but I resisted commenting back, knowing that we’re not in best circumstances to argue about this issue. So I was just listening and observe where the conversations lead to and at some point it eventually end.

Reproductive health risks include a loss of sexual sensation, chronic urinary tract infections, and painful intercourse (Heise 1993). Women and girls are not informed of these health risks. There’s no clinically proven that female circumcision benefit women. And yet, in my strongest opinion, this rite of passage is merely a tradition.

Tra·di·tion (noun) 1. The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way; 2. A long-established custom or belief that has been passed on in this way.

I was raised in Moslem family, and mind as well as the taxi driver; we’ve been told from generation to generation in his family that this is necessary to conduct in every female. But things have changed; unlike our predecessor, we now questioned why the reason behind.

However, female circumcision is not even mentioned in the Koran, and it is unknown in predominantly Muslim countries outside of Africa, such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq. What seems likely is that when Islam came to Africa, its emphasis on purity became associated with the existing practice of female circumcision (Abusharaf 1998).

Symbolic interactionism argues that individuals and societies develop the meanings attached to symbols through social interactions. Individual’s interactions involve an exchange of information from individuals to other individuals (Andrea Nichols). And that’s merely how tradition is passing from time to time.

And yet again back to the taxi driver statement that saying female circumcision is to prevent women libido, it come to my consciousness that in society, not only traditions, but when it comes to social regulatory that might involving women as object, men are tend to put their object (women) as first to point the blame on for any misbehavior men might do with a justification to prevent women to misbehaving by limiting women.

In Indonesia itself, for example, Anti-Pornography Bill is cornering women for improper behavior and that immoral behavior are because women do not behave politely and do not cover themselves properly from the very eyes of men. This understanding puts woman as the victim. Women are also deemed responsible for sexual crimes.

And in most of Asian country, although women are mainly the decision maker in the family and largely to involve in most society or even regulatory governance, it’s undeniably that men are still in a huge control to every law and regulation that applicable in society; and sadly, women are still a minority.

Also read:


Nichols, Andrea “Female Circumcision” Senior Seminar Paper, Department of Sociology, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville,

Abusharaf, Rogaia Mustafa « Unmasking tradition: a Sudanese anthropologist confronts female « circumcision » and its terrible tenacity. » The Sciences, March-April 1998 v38 n2 p22(6).

Heise, Lori “Reproductive Freedom and Violence Against Women: Where are the Intersections?” Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 1993,21,2, summer 206-216.

Taflinger, Richard F. “Taking Advantage Social Basis of Human Behavior: Sex”,, 1996.

Gender bias: Limitation for Indonesian Women and Professional Socio-Activity

18 01 2010

Current issue on religious affair related to gender mainstreaming in Indonesia is the issuance of Haram or Forbiddance advisory recommendation on certain socio-individual activities and specifically addressed to Women.

Most definitions conform to the UN Economic and Social Council formally defined concept:

Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.

The recommendation of forbiddance covers 6 points of socio-individual activities as below:

1. Forbiddance for Women to be Motorbike Taxi driver

2. Forbiddance for Women to be take Motorbike Taxi to socio-religious engagement

3. Forbiddance of Hair Rebounding

4. Forbiddance of hair Dying for Women

5. Forbiddance for Muslim Actress to act in a movie as Non-Muslim

6. Forbiddance of making Pre-Wedding Picture

These recommendations were issued after East Java Forum Musyawarah Pondok Pesantren Putri (FMP3) or Muslim Boarding School for Girl Discussion Forum resumed their bahtsul masail on Thursday night (14/1/2010). These points of recommendation were justifying based on high possibility of defamation for women during of those activities. Though then ironically, this discussion forum was lead by group of men, thus the justification of recommendation become vaguely justifiable.

East Java FMP3’s spokesperson, Muhammad Nabiel Haroen claim that these recommendations are not strictly bounding. The implementation, however, will be by each and every individual. “Those who believe, we strongly encourage to do so. And those who doesn’t, we hope that they could understand and try to implement it”, said Nabiel.

Defining feminism can be challenging, but a broad understanding of it includes women and men acting, speaking and writing on women’s issues and rights and identifying social injustice in the status quo.

The Forgotten Life of Malabar: West Java Earthquake

10 11 2009

That afternoon, over a IDP* Camp in the south part of Bandung, the capital city of West Java, a skeptical look of this women caught my eyes. She’s a mother of three children; sharing their life with 200 other households in this over-crowded camp in Malabar Mountain.


Photo courtesy of Ilham Ariawan for European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, Indonesia

Titin, that’s how she introduce herself to us. She withholds their future, knowing that her family had no place to go. Their house severely damaged from the earthquake of 7,0 Richter scale on September 29, 2009. Not only that, they cannot return to their village as the earthquake had made the land in their village vulnerable and prone to landslide that could be happen at any time, especially rainy seasons approaching to its peak.

Throughout the province, recorded approximately more than 200.000


Photo courtesy of Ilham Ariawan for European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, Indonesia

houses damaged, covering more than 15 districts. This has made the scale of destruction is more massive than West Sumatra Earthquake that devastating more than 135.000 houses few weeks later.

While Titin struggling to live in the camp, international organizations do their best to improve her living situation as required by SPHERE – Humanitarian Standard Minimum Standard on Disaster Response. However, it’s been 6 weeks since the earthquake happened, their life is still yet to be improved, and the minimum standard seems becoming way too low. Donors and International organization now undergone advocacy on land for relocation, ignite a quick response from the local government to relocate these IDP’s to a better condition as their tents is no longer sufficient for a decent living. Proposals from Non-Government organization is now has been pre-selected for temporary shelter.

Titin’s life and other 200 households is just a glimpse of a forgotten life asthe media attention got West Sumatra earthquake as their focus. Not knowing that these IDP’s are in high need of International assistance. Media, once again prove their strength. Media has proof that its hand may redirect the eyes of the world.

Downfall of our Surau [Robohnya Surau Kami]

24 10 2009

IMG00169-20091020-1105Robohnya Surau Kami or the Downfall of our Surau is actually one of a compilation of short story of socio-religious by Ali Akbar Navis, a prominent Indonesian author in 1950’s. His excellent short novel is « Robohnya Surau Kami » stories about culture bankruptcy in Minangkabau that first published in 1956.

The novel is a satire of a religious man that dedicated his whole life to worship God and forget that God also required human being balancing the heavenly and worldly act. The novel then became a monumental works of Indonesia’s literature. IMG00163-20091020-1058

The novel is very contrast with the reality. After the earthquake, people of Minangkabau don’t just sit and wait for aid. They work on it! Many of them have even started to rebuild their house or emergency shelter out of the rubbles of their remaining house.

There are 3 affected areas, Padang district, Padang Pariaman district, and Agam district. The pattern of damage here are patchy, in some area would be 10% damages and the neighboring village could rise up to 60% damages. Agam district suffers from secondary disaster of earthquake generated landslide.

People are depending to the river for access to clean water, latrines, and washing. The problem in urban area is that the earthquake has damaged the main PDAM (state owned water company) water intake that leaves its customer without water supply from its pipeline.

Non Food Items (hygiene kits, mosquito nets) are still on going to be distributed whilst the distribution of tarpaulin is no longer need. Most people already start to build their emergency shelter without waiting from government helps out of the rubbles and remaining material of their house and tarpaulin distribution is way too late.

The moral of A.A. Navis novel is, God has been given a land (Indonesia) that is prosperous. So don’t let your family suffer and not doing anything. Life is all about struggle and although the Surau is falling apart, life and religious affair will continue here without further a due and come in a perfect harmony.

West Sumatra Earthquake: The survivors from the Rubble

22 10 2009

It’s always been amazing to hear the courageous story of the survivor of a disaster. Three years ago I was in Aceh for another disaster relief with the UN, and one of the drivers was a survivor and lost his wife and newborn right before his hand, washed away by the tsunami.  But I’m not going to tell about his story this time. It’s the story of these women and a young girl who survived and surviving the earthquake few weeks ago.

We were talking a time to send our report to the headquarter from a gentle invitation from IOM West Sumatra, the we met again dr. Zenaeda Nihill of IOM’s medical team who’s leading the Patients Transporting project. A very radiant medical doctor I must say, every conversation with her would be so much alive. Then out of nowhere we had plan an afternoon impromptu to M. Djamil Hospital in Padang city.

IMG00159-20091019-1557M. Djamil is a state-run hospital, in which its Cardiovascular Center collapsed and some of its wings got severely damaged by the earthquake. So dr. Zen got us to the Orthopedic Surgery ward and got some assistance from ward’s nurses.

There were several other patients here together with the quake casualties. Some got amputated, some got minor fracture, but most of them suffer from major fracture. Doctor from Russia and Indonesia work together hand-in-hand to safe their limb.

From this ward there was 1 survivor that caught my tears away, as what will IMG00158-20091019-1527she faced will be so much devastating and changed her life. For a morality reason her picture will not going to be published here. She was in Ambacang Hotel for a conference that afternoon when the earthquake happens. She jumped from the 3rd floor and a concrete wall hit on her. The Search and Rescue team found her alive after 48 hours without food or water.

She suffered an orbital fracture and pelvic fracture. She lost her sight ever since, her ability to talk is decreasing as well as coordination of body limbs.

Photo courtesy of dr. Zenaida Nihill, IOM West Sumatra

Photo courtesy of dr. Zenaida Nihill, IOM West Sumatra

The second ward we visited is the children care ward. Her name is Indah, a 9 year’s old little girl. She suffered a serious fracture on both legs, as a metal fence fell off on her. She has passed some surgery, and few other series of surgery to fix her legs. A metal fixator has been installed in her both legs.

These patience’ will face a serious healing process that involved series of surgery, physiotherapy sessions, and what they urgently need is psychosocial support. A visit after now and then, gentle touch and light talks will help them to recover as their life will never be the same again.

West Sumatra Earthquake: A Heart Wrenching Situation

19 10 2009

IMG00146-20091017-11132, 5 hours trip from the capital city of West Sumatra, Padang to neighboring district of Padang Pariaman. Pariaman is a coastal district that reported to be most affected area from the earthquake, last 30 September 2009 in West Sumatra.

As we drive along the main road, entering Padang Pariaman, in humanitarian point of view the affected area is patchy. Some are ranging of 10% of houses damaged, and some could rise to up to 50% damages.

Drove further down off the main road to Kudu Gantiang regency, the damages start to look more severe than previous regencies we passed along the way. Road was cracked especially along the slope in which some of the slope deceased by the landslide, big rocks covering some of the road this may cause aid distribution truck stuck for a while before they can continue their way to the distribution point.

photo courtesy of IOM West Sumatra

photo courtesy of Timo Idema, IOM West Sumatra

We finally made to a village or locally know Nagari of Sialang. Asphalt road changed to rocky in a hilly road. With kind 4×4 vehicle assistance of IOM we managed to stop before continuing our way by foot up to the affected area up in the hill for about 4 KM.

On the side road, school and house were not only damaged but some were completely collapsed from the earthquake. Based on ground assessment, housing in this area collapsing due to poorly constructed houses, as most of the house inadequately constructed without strong concrete frame and beam-less, which during the earthquake enable the building wall rocking and finally collapsing.

We stop by at one of the house. The only remaining part of the house is only the roof, topping the 120 cm high concrete left. There are 7 people in this house and as the temporary shelter the built in front of the remains out of tarpaulin only enough for the men, the rest of the family member life under the remaining roof.

Photo courtesy of IOM West Sumatra

Photo courtesy of Timo Idema, IOM West Sumatra

We continue our visit. Road were start become extremely rough as tons of soil and its vegetation covering up the ground. Climb up and hopping from hardened dirt to another, we can still see some of the remaining house from afar. Most of humanitarian aid here weren’t distributed here. The survivors have to come all the way down to the nearest village to pick up the aid and climb up carrying 5 kg of food item aid.

We were trying to go further as we reach in the middle of the landslide slop to the affected area, but we decided to return as we found water in between the hill which might harm the team if we try to go further, as the land is still fragile and prone to another landslide.

It’s a heart-anguishing experience and yet inspiring. Seeing how people coping the situation quickly and continue their life back to the normal condition in minimal situation.