Ending Violence Against Women and Girls in Indonesia: What do we know, where are we, and what can we do next?

Violence against women and children often occur within the same household (Know Violence in Childhood, 2017; Barker & Marcos, 2010). The intersection between violence against women (VAW) and violence against children (VAC) is influenced by the gender norms and poverty, which perpetuates structural inequalities. Women are expected to take a heavier role in childcare. The stress for women to meet such expectation, coupled with the lack of support from their male partners, increases the tendency to resort to corporal punishment. In 2015, 1.3 billion children (boys and girls) worldwide experiencing corporal punishment at home (Know Violence in Childhood, 2017).

The typical gender dynamics of “boys are tough” and “girls are weak and inferior to men and boys” different affects the experience of violence between boys and girls, as well as men and women. Boys are at higher risks of bullying, fights, and physical violence compared to girls who are more likely to experience sexual and emotional violence. In 2015, 18 million girls ages 15-19 years old had experienced sexual violence, whereas 55 million girls within the same age group have experienced physical violence since they were 15 (Know Violence in Childhood, 2017).

In Indonesia, 73.7% boys and girls aged 1-14 have received corporal punishment at home, whereas 4.7% adolescent girls ages 15-19 years old have experienced sexual violence in 2015 (Know Violence in Childhood, 2017). In 2016, through a nationally representative survey on women and girls’ life experience survey (Survei Pengalaman Hidup Perempuan Nasional or SPHPN), showed that 33.4% (1 in 3) of women and girls ages 15-64 years old experienced physical and/or sexual violence committed by sexual and/or non-sexual partners in their lifetime.

VAW and VAC pose a threat to human development globally because of the far-ranging and adverse health outcomes. Childhood trauma extends to adulthood and can result in long-term depression and behavioral problems. These individuals are also at higher risk of developing substance abuse. Abused children tend to have lower academic achievements as a consequence of violence-related learning impairments, putting them at risk of bullying. The impact of violence can also be intergenerational as some studies showed a relationship between the experience of intimate partner violence and having low-birth-weight babies. Low-birth-weight babies raised in a violent environment are at more vulnerable to developing poor health and developmental outcomes.

Despite the available data globally and in Indonesia, researchers and child protection practitioners have limited knowledge about the causal relationship between risk factors and outcomes of violence. Many studies on violence against women and girls utilize cross-sectional desgin. However, establishing causation in cross-sectional studies is difficult because the temporality and directionality of risk factors and outcomes are unclear. Additionally, obtaining accurate information on the size and magnitude of violence is difficult because of the sensitive nature of the issue. Thus, we need to know more to understand the intersectionality between VAC and VAW in Indonesia to develop policies and programs to end violence against women and children.

This Learning Series will focus on discussing programs and policies to end violence against women and girls as well as the importance of generating sound evidence to inform program and policy formulation. However, it does not mean that we are neglecting boys and men who also experience violence. Understanding violence against girls and women will uncover important gender-related underlying factors, which will also be relevant for boys and men. This discussion will become a means for reflecting on the current implementation of programs and policies related to ending violence against girls and women by inviting experienced child protection practitioners, academics, and policymakers on child protection in Indonesia. Suggestions and ideas from this dialogue will be important for directing the broader strategy to end violence against children (boys and girls), women, and men.