A transcript from “Audioguides for National History Museum (Museum Sejarah Nasional), Monas, Jakarta”, a project coordinated by Grace Samboh and Hyphen.
The full project can be accessed here.
“mom, I’m pregnant.” I told her in a shivering voice, borderline having a panic attack.
“Okay, what do you want to do?” She replied calmly.
“I would like an abortion.”
I was very sure with this. I know I wasn’t ready.
“Okay. Let’s go and find out how and where we to do it.”
We ended up going to Singapore to get an abortion.
How I got pregnant and why I decided to get an abortion is not your problem, but I am giving a context on how hard it can be here.
I’m one of the very very lucky ones to be able to have this conversation with my parents without being kicked out of the family.
Today I would like to talk to you about the diorama of Kartini and about how Indonesian women are seen and preceived in Indonesia.
Let’s begin with how Kartini is interpreted in the diorama in the Museum of National History in the National Museum. I think that it is interesting how it’s the only one that have a women as the main figure. Kartini is shown standing in the middle of a “proposed” classroom, teaching quite a number of woman seated in their tables and seats, with a piece of paper each, open wall, a little blackboard in the front of the class. It seems that a lot of people joining the class, as it looks like a lot of people were going home/going in to the class.
It is just an image. It is a story that they wanted to tell, for back in the day women barely have access to education. We were trained to be good in the house, be a good “wife” to serve the husband. Kartini was the one who made it possible for us to have access to education. She was the one who started the fire.
Indonesian women was always oppressed in the community, in fact, it still is. Very recently there was a big demonstration about proposed change of laws – few of them involving women.
One of the controversial ones is about abortion. (Kutip dehpasalnya dalam bahas dan terjemahin buat dramatisasi) It is hard enough in Indonesia for people to get contraception, or even children understanding what sex is due to the lack of education (please, it is even mentioned in the new proposed law that parents are not to show children what contraception tools are /like condom/, that’ll get them a 1 million fine).
We all have our reasons for abortion. Whether it’s because you are the few un/lucky ones whose condom broke or pills not working, the pregnancy is dangerous for the mom, pregnancy because of rape, or just plainly choosing not to be pregnant. Well, guess what. It’ll get you in jail for maximum 4 years. How crazy is that.
Imagine that you were raped. And you got pregnant from it. Refusing the rapist family’s offer to get married off to them (this happens way too much in the villages). And now if you decide to get an abortion, you’ll also end up in jail.
But wait! Because also with the new proposed law, if you have sex outside of marriage, you’ll also end up in jail!
Crazy laws, eh?
It’s definitely something to think about as the situation isn’t yet calming down. A lot of people were against it (obviously), and like I mentioned, went down to the streets. What happened this year was probably the biggest demonstration after Suharto came down on 98.
The lack of access to proper sex education leads to a lot of sex outside of marriage, in the small villages it leads to a lot of underage marriage, hence a lot of little families with a lot of children. Not to mention the amount of death or abandoned kids, or young families that isn’t ready with the world. Sex. It is a very important topic to be talked about, yet everyone thinks it’s such a taboo.
Why is it your problem, who I’m being intimate with? Why is it your choice, for me to have a baby or not, in my own circumstances? Why is it your problem, what I’m wearing? Why is it such a problem for you what I do with my body?
Kartini started the fight for women. It got us to where we are, today. It’s not the end for our fight, but we are slowly getting our deserved rights back.
The truth was never a truth. There never was a classroom. In Kartini times, where Kartini was, never that many people. Even if Kartini could’ve really made her “class”, her school, it was done without tables or chairs, or blackboard and a roof over their head. They just had to overdramatize the truth in order to have a woman hero, to raise a female figure.
Kartini is the only woman figure displayed amongst 51 dioramas in the Museum of National History in Monas, and I find it funny that it was based on a lie, an overdramatize scene, a scene that couldn’t have really happened.
It is sad to learn that a woman, however she is historicized and even made a national heroine, had to be told in another man’s way-
Not even in her own truth, let alone her story. It just had to be “his story”.
My name is Lilu, I’m a student of gudskul’s regular program.
That’s from me, thank you.