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Anti-Domestic Violence Law in Indonesia: Boon or Bane?

June 10, 2021, 05.30 PM - From what she had known from her friends' married life, Novi always felt that she could also have a white marriage, which is based on sincere affection and pure love.

A few years ago, before her wedding with her fiance, Badu (not the real name), Novi remembered well she then diligently checked the to-do lists from administrative paperwork to the Dangdut singer she booked would not stray on the way to her house or even got the wedding date wrong.

She prepared it so well although it was not a grand wedding reception because as a cook and waitress in a food stall in Bekasi near Jakarta, Novi did not earn much, so did Badu, who earned an even lower salary than hers.

But, she was quite pleased as she was going to get married. More importantly, she was going to marry someone with whom she had a love story for two years.

However, not too long after the wedding, her marriage turned out to be unexpected.

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In the first year of marriage, Badu wanted Novi to find another job that did not involve night shifts and weekends so that Novi could stay at home to take care of the household. In other words, Badu wanted Novi to spend as much time with him as possible. It was for the first time Novi saw the other side of marriage.

“The longer it went on, the more I could be tamed. And I did not know why, I felt even more afraid to refuse," said Novi.

Novi had always known that Badu often hung out with his friends until late at the place close to Badu's old rented house in Bekasi city. One day for the first time, in the middle of dawn, Novi's door was pushed so hard that she woke up only to find her husband lying on the sofa rambling, clutching his dizzy head.

"His breath smelled of bad alcohol," explained Novi.

The next minute when Novi was about to support Badu's body, her hair was suddenly grabbed for no reason. The incident did not stop there. From that night, Badu continued to treat her worse. Badu would use a plastic gallon container or a wooden chair to vent his emotions by hitting Novi. The bruises did disappear after a few weeks, but the worst injuries were not even on Novi's physique but her psyche.

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It was also around this time that Badu began to despise Novi, blaming her for their previous financial decisions and claiming that Novi was incompetent and incapable of making decisions. All of their decisions had been disastrous. Novi believed that Badu was only jealous of her achievements and humiliating her was Badu's way of overcoming his shortcomings.

Later on, Badu also demanded Novi transfer all of her salaries to him, not letting Novi manage the money earned by her hard work. As for Badu, he was free to spend his and the rest of Novi's salary as he wished. Feeling like a slave—working long hours, constantly being watched, and having to give up her salary—Novi threw back memories of how she felt about marriage a few years ago.

The situation became unbearable for Novi. She then decided to stay for a night in a friend’s place. A coworker encouraged her to get help from social services, but Novi was not someone who could open herself up to people she did not know, especially because what she had to do was to report her husband to the authorities.


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