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Jakarta teens seek to end violence against women

Watching movies, hanging out in a shopping mall or chatting in a coffee shop ― these are the perceptions most people have about the ways teenagers spend their weekend, but for some young girls a change will not come from those places.

Binar Mentari Malahayati, a third-year junior high school student, said that she would take part in the One Billion Rising worldwide dance performance to raise public awareness to end violence against women.

“We live in an era where violations against women still happen and a lot of women consider domestic violence a common occurrence,” Binar told The Jakarta Post at the dance rehearsal in a house in Kemang, South Jakarta.

OBR Indonesia will join the annual global campaign, which was started by American women activist Eve Ensler in 2013, to perform a dance every Valentine’s Day with the mission to urge women to talk, dance and rise up against violence. Binar added that she deplored the fact that a lot of housewives in this country were still stuck in the narrow patriarchy mind-set that allowed them to be a victim of domestic violence committed by their husbands.

“We must break the chains of violence and encourage women to speak up when their rights are violated,” the 14-year-old girl said. As the firstborn child of Mugiyanto, former chairman of the Indonesian Association of Families of Missing Persons, the dance campaign was not the first social movement that she engaged in. Binar had joined her parents to stage public rallies on the recent Labor Day on May 1 as well as participated in protests in front of the State Palace every Thursday called Kamisan to demand that the government resolve past abuse cases.

“My friends at school said that I take this life too seriously, but my defense is that I do these things for a good cause and I cannot stay silent when there is still injustice out there,” she said.

Another teenager, Elsi Yulianti, a 15-year-old senior high school student, said she wanted to take part in the OBR campaign because she was upset with the high number of crimes against women and the ongoing stigma that women were considered a more vulnerable class in society.

“A lot of people still think woman are weaker and therefore they treat us differently. Gender equality should be encouraged,” she said. Andi Gunawan from OBR Indonesia said that he appreciated the teenagers’ participation and hoped that there would be more to come on the performance day that would likely be held at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Cikini, Central Jakarta on Feb. 14. More than 300 people joined the cause last year, he said.

“Unlike last year, this year’s Valentine’s Day will fall on the weekend so we expect more people to show up,” Andi said.

He said although the rehearsal was open for any interested people, would-be participants can also rehearse their moves by watching the rehearsal video that would be uploaded on the website and their YouTube channel.

By Indra Budiari

(The Jakarta Post)