Problematic Conjugations: Women's Agency, Marriage and Domestic Violence in Indonesia

S. Aisyah, Lyn Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines women's experience of domestic violence within marriage in Makassar, South Sulawesi. It analyses the meaning of marriage for men and women, the roles of men and women within marriage, shifts in marriage practices - particularly the shift from arranged to "love" marriage - and unequal gender positions within marriage. We discuss some salient issues in the "margins of marriage" in Indonesia: polygyny and constructions of masculinity that condone the practice of polygyny/affairs, and attitudes towards divorce, particularly for women. We then examine women's perception of the causes and triggers of domestic violence as revealed by fieldwork data, using the lens of women's agency. Our findings are that women perceive that their expressions of agency - for instance in challenging men's authority, moral righteousness and adequacy as breadwinners - are the most common triggers for male violence within marriage. Finally, we discuss the difficulty for women of escaping domestic violence, thereby getting some purchase on the relative capacity of women to resist, deflect or deal with the violence. © 2014 Asian Studies Association of Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-223
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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