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Proposal for 'wife schools' sparks outrage

Jakarta Post - December 29, 2018

Ivany Atina Arbi and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The West Bandung administration's plan to establish what it calls "wife schools" to prevent divorces has sparked outrage among the public, particularly from women activists, who have called the program unfair and sexist.

West Bandung Deputy Regent Hengky Kurniawan revealed the plan on his Instagram account on Thursday, citing the high number of divorce cases in the regency as the reason. The administration recorded 244 divorce cases from Nov. 5 to Nov. 30.

"This is a serious problem for us. Therefore, the West Bandung administration intends to establish 'wife schools' in 2019 to teach wives how to treat their husbands, to hold back their anger and to properly communicate with their kids," said the celebrity-turned-politician.

Hengky tagged the Instagram accounts of West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil and Vice Governor Uu Ruzhanul Ulum in his post.

Many Instagram users derided the idea as sexist, saying that both men and women could contribute to a divorce. Men, too, should pay attention to how they treat their partners.

An Instagram user with the handle @mamamolilo suggested that the administration instead offer "premarital courses", where future wives and husbands are taught about good communication, anger management, financial management and so on.

The Instagram account of the Aliansi Laki-laki Baru (New Men Alliance), a community that strives for women's rights on the assumption that the patriarchal mentality that supports men's dominance also harms men, also commented on Hengky's post, saying "Kang [elder brother] Hengky, let us meet so we can discuss what can cause divorces."

On Twitter, a user called Sekar Lintang Hapsari said it would be better to establish a school for abusive husbands. "Well, Hengky, why don't you [share your] 'Sekolah Ibu' idea with the husbands who beat the crap out of their wives and neglect their children." The comment received more than 800 likes in less than 24 hours.

As of Saturday morning, Hengky has closed the comment section for his controversial post. People can no longer comment or see comments in the post.

He also slightly edited the caption, adding the following note: "Nobody aims to blame wives for divorces, but such a program is working well in Bogor [West Java] to bring down the divorce rate. This is a good program that we can also implement. The trainers in the program will be professors, psychologists, lecturers, female police officers and career women. The governor has expressed appreciation for the plan. I apologize for any misunderstanding. Thank you."

Hengky's wife Sonya Fatmala, an actress and mother of three, supported her husband's idea, explaining the planned program in her Instagram Story posts. She claimed that Sekolah Ibu would be a great program to develop women's character and make them independent.

She said the schools would teach women how to use makeup, how to behave toward their husbands and how to handle their children. "[The school] will teach us [wives] to be mothers and wives who can control our emotions for our family. There are still many women who lack confidence and need a place to share [their feelings]," she wrote. (yan)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/29/proposal-for-wife-schools-sparks-outrage.html.

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