'Men behaving badly': Women's responses to men's extramarital relationships in Teduk, Lombok

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 28 July 2010
12.30pm–2.00pm

Venue

Coombs Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU

Speaker

Maria Platt (Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, La Trobe University)

Contacts

Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
In the village of Teduk, located on the eastern Indonesian island of Lombok, the term pacaran lagi is used to describe to men’s extramarital relationships. Pacaran lagi constitutes a frequent disruption to marital relationships in Teduk and is a common precursor to divorce. While previous studies of marriage in Lombok have noted the occurrence of men’s extramarital relationships, there has been little in-depth exploration of the phenomenon and its effect on families.

This paper, based on 15 months of fieldwork in Teduk, argues that pacaran lagi is widely tolerated by the community. The practice of polygamy, according to local Islam allows men to take up to four wives simultaneously. This in part legitimises pacaran lagi. In stark contrast, anything other than monogamy for women is condemned.

Aside from promoting a high degree of gender asymmetry and perpetuating sexual double standards, the practice causes a great deal of economic and emotional hardship for women and their families. As a result, women whose husbands engage in pacaran lagi regularly undertake additional work to support their families’ already meagre income. Ironically, while men often use religion to justify pacaran lagi, the practice frequently leads to a subversion of Islamically prescribed gender roles. These gender ideals tend to uphold men as key economic providers while women are responsible for child care and household management.

This paper highlights women’s experiences of pacaran lagi and demonstrates that women adopt a wide range of responses when negotiating this disturbance to their marriages.

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