"We no longer live in the old days": a qualitative study on the role of masculinity and religion for men's views on violence within marriage in rural Java, Indonesia

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Background: Previous studies on domestic violence in Indonesia have focused primarily on women's experiences and little research has been undertaken to understand men's views on domestic violence or their involvement in the prevention of domestic violence. This study aimed to explore men's views on masculinity and the use of violence within marriage, in order to gain knowledge on how to involve men in prevention of domestic violence in rural Indonesia. Methods: Focus group discussions with six groups of local male community leaders in Purworejo were conducted. The discussions were transcribed and coded for the construction of a positional map on different masculinities and their relation to the level of acceptance of domestic violence. Results: Social and cultural changes have played a crucial role in transforming the relationship between men and women in Indonesian society. Three different positions of masculinity with certain beliefs on the gender order and acceptance of violence within marriage were identified: the traditionalist, the pragmatist, and the egalitarian. The traditionalist had the highest acceptance of violence as a tool to uphold the superior position of men within marriage, while the pragmatist viewed violence as undesirable but sometimes needed in order to correct the wife's behavior. The egalitarian did not see any reason for violence because they believed that men and women are equal and complementary to each other. Conclusions: Adaptation to social and cultural changes combined with lack of exposures to contextual and progressive religious teachings has led to the formation of three different positions of masculinity among the population in this study. Each position has certain beliefs regarding the gender order and the use of violence within marriage. Religion is an extremely important aspect that must be included in every type of intervention with this population.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Domestic violence, Masculinity, Positional map, Indonesia
Original languageEnglish
Article number58
JournalBMC Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

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