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The Jakarta Post
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Healthy, happy wives begin with caring men

  • Niken Prathivi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, December 15, 2013 | 01:28 pm
Healthy, happy wives begin with caring men A Muslim cleric, Muhammad Nur Salim, takes care of his three children to help his working wife. (Courtesy of Kalyana Shira Films)" border="0" height="333" width="500">A Muslim cleric, Muhammad Nur Salim, takes care of his three children to help his working wife. (Courtesy of Kalyana Shira Films)

In a small village in Bondowoso, East Java, Muhammad Nur Salim sets an inspiring example of how to be a loving, supportive husband and father.

Surga Kecil di Bondowoso (A Little Heaven in Bondowoso) is the latest documentary film by prominent filmmaker Nia Dinata. The film focuses on the life of Muhammad Nur Salim, a Muslim preacher (locally known as ustaz) who helps his working wife care for their family in a small village in Bondowoso, East Java.

The film shows the everyday life of the preacher, who is willing to do domestic chores, while his wife, Nur Fadilah, the head of a kindergarten and a junior high school teacher, goes to work.

Nur Salim provides religious instruction at dawn and after sunset, as well as doing all the domestic duties that his wife cannot do during the day. He does most of the chores — from cleaning up the house, doing the laundry and cooking, to taking care of their children, while his wife is at work.

Nur Salim’s life is unusual for most Indonesians, who are accustomed to patriarchal values, with women having the sole responsibility for housework, especially in small villages.

At first, Nur Salim and his wife received strange looks from other villagers. But as time has passed, a positive change has occurred in the preacher’s village as other residents, looking up to the cleric as a local leader, have started to show more empathy with their wives.

The Kalyana Shira Foundation collaborated with the Dutch-based Rutgers WPF Indonesia non-profit organization in producing the documentary film and two public service announcements.

The project is in support of MenCare, a global fatherhood campaign which aims at promoting men’s involvement as equitable, non-violent fathers and caregivers in order to achieve family well-being and gender equality.

(Courtesy of Kalyana Shira Films)

A Muslim cleric, Muhammad Nur Salim, takes care of his three children to help his working wife. (Courtesy of Kalyana Shira Films)

In a small village in Bondowoso, East Java, Muhammad Nur Salim sets an inspiring example of how to be a loving, supportive husband and father.

Surga Kecil di Bondowoso (A Little Heaven in Bondowoso) is the latest documentary film by prominent filmmaker Nia Dinata. The film focuses on the life of Muhammad Nur Salim, a Muslim preacher (locally known as ustaz) who helps his working wife care for their family in a small village in Bondowoso, East Java.

The film shows the everyday life of the preacher, who is willing to do domestic chores, while his wife, Nur Fadilah, the head of a kindergarten and a junior high school teacher, goes to work.

Nur Salim provides religious instruction at dawn and after sunset, as well as doing all the domestic duties that his wife cannot do during the day. He does most of the chores '€” from cleaning up the house, doing the laundry and cooking, to taking care of their children, while his wife is at work.

Nur Salim'€™s life is unusual for most Indonesians, who are accustomed to patriarchal values, with women having the sole responsibility for housework, especially in small villages.

At first, Nur Salim and his wife received strange looks from other villagers. But as time has passed, a positive change has occurred in the preacher'€™s village as other residents, looking up to the cleric as a local leader, have started to show more empathy with their wives.

The Kalyana Shira Foundation collaborated with the Dutch-based Rutgers WPF Indonesia non-profit organization in producing the documentary film and two public service announcements.

The project is in support of MenCare, a global fatherhood campaign which aims at promoting men'€™s involvement as equitable, non-violent fathers and caregivers in order to achieve family well-being and gender equality.

(Courtesy of Kalyana Shira Films)(Courtesy of Kalyana Shira Films)
The campaign is currently being conducted in the initiative countries, South Africa, Brazil, Rwanda and Indonesia.

In Indonesia, the campaign has been adapted into the '€œLaki-laki Peduli: Bekerjasama untuk Kesetaraan'€ (Men Care: Working Together for Equality) campaign, promoting men'€™s involvement as fathers, husbands and individuals opposed to violence.

Rutgers WPF Indonesia believes that encouraging men to be more engaged in taking care of their domestic partners and children can reduce domestic violence and maternal mortality rates.

Indonesia'€™s Demography and Health Survey in 2012 revealed that the maternal mortality rate in the country was 359 per 100,000 births. In 2007, the rate was at 228 per 100,000 births. Meanwhile, the Millennium Development Goals aim for 102 maternal deaths per 100,000 births by 2015.

The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) recorded 119,107 reports of gender-based violence, with most cases occurring within the home, in 2011, while in 2010 the figure was 105,103.

'€œI realized that our [previous] programs [in reducing gender-based violence and maternal mortality rates] had been unsuccessful thus far,'€ Rutgers WPF Indonesia country representative Sri Kusyuniati told The Jakarta Post.

'€œAfter conducting research, which was helped by various institutions including the University of Indonesia'€™s (UI) research center on family issues, we found that we needed a positive approach toward men in order to help reduce the rates.

'€œLet'€™s stop blaming men, but rather encourage them to be more caring,'€ she explained, adding that the documentary film and public service announcements were the perfect media for the campaign.

Prior to the production of the film and announcements, the research team went to Bondowoso and Jombang in East Java, West Lampung and Bandar Lampung in Lampung and Gunung Kidul and Kulonprogo in Yogyakarta to gather facts.

Nur Salim with his wife, Nur Fadilah, and his third child.Nur Salim with his wife, Nur Fadilah, and his third child.
According to research, of the three provinces, Lampung was the one with the most patriarchal values.

'€œThere was even a case in Lampung in which a wife was offended by her husband helping her in the kitchen. Both sets of parents [of the couple] were also offended by the husband'€™s helpful act,'€ said Sri.

Nia, who was in charge of producing the documentary film and public service announcements, admitted that she was surprised to witness a father, who was a religious preacher, being willing to do domestic chores and allowing his wife to maintain her teaching career.

'€œI saw with my own eyes that this preacher practiced what he preached '€” a very loving and caring husband and father. He has led his villagers into being individuals who really care for their family members,'€ said Nia on the sidelines of the film'€™s press screening in Jakarta recently.

MenCare'€™s public service announcements respectively feature actor Lukman Sardi and TV presenter Ersa Mayori as the campaign ambassadors.

Lukman said that he was happy to be part of the eye-opening MenCare project, a concept which was close to his daily life.

'€œI believe a husband and a wife have to work together in managing a household. Sharing is the key. In the old days, the sharing concept was mostly about fathers working outside and mothers looking after the house. Now, it'€™s different '€” nowadays fathers can do domestic tasks, while their wives can enjoy their personal time-out. I think it is a very important sharing concept within a household,'€ he added.

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