ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Canberra, Australia
Within Islamic tradition and in diverse Muslim majority countries, the discussion of women’s sexual and reproductive health has become a major religious, social, cultural and political debate. This problem, however, should not be singled out as the problem of Muslims. Policies pertaining to household gender roles, the hierarchy within family households based on biological differences between men and women, and child policies introduced by certain countries, are examples of efforts to governmentalise and police women’s sexuality and reproduction in various localities. This paper will focus on some issues and approaches to women’s sexuality in Indonesia, a Muslim majority country. Based on offline and online ethnographic accounts, this study will investigate the often neglected offline and online struggles of progressive Muslim women’s activists in battling the patriarchal reading of women’s sexuality and reproduction. It will examine players behind the debates and religious sources used to strengthen their positions. The study emphasises that the absence of a consensus on “Islamic views” of women’s sexual and reproductive health mirrors the non-monolithic approaches to sexuality within Islamic traditions. Socio-cultural and political forces play an important role in dealing with issues on women’s sexuality and Islam.
Eva Nisa is a senior lecturer in anthropology at ANU. She was formerly a lecturer in religious studies at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests include Islam and Muslim societies, gender relations, political Islam, Islamic economy, religion, popular culture and social media, Islamic law, and refugees and migration.