Indonesia is the country with the highest number of Muslims population in the worlds; making it predominantly Islamic society. Majority of the population is Sunnis Muslim followers, although other branches such a Shia have a following.  However, the Indonesian Muslim community can be divided into two: the modernist and the traditionist. The modernists closely follow to orthodox theology while at the same time embracing modernity. Traditions strive to follow the interpretation of local Imams and leaders (Sanjakdar, 2011).

Internal migration in Indonesia has change the demographic composition of the society and Muslim faith has become predominate even in regions where other regions were the majority .initially the eastern part of the country was Christian dominated, but they are slowly becoming fewer in some locations . The transmigration was state sponsored move to decongest cities such Java that less populated eastern regions.  Although predominately Muslim, the country is not a Islamic country (Bennett, 2009). The majority of the Indonesian, especially in urban areas are liberal and have embraced western culture and sex in such has ceased to be a taboo like unlike before. Modernity and the internet have help to diffuse the traditional view of sex from strict region’s lenses. Alternatively, sexuality is highly repressed in the country and person engaging in sex outside of heterosexual relation, is quickly condemn by the society (Bennett, 2009).

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In respect of the these facts, it would be very important to document the traditional Islamic practices of the Indonesian society in relation to marriage, polygamy, divorce, child custody, property rights and inheritance (Sanjakdar, 2011).  These is in would be intended to find out whether practices promote or improve the rights of women and gender justice in the society. The choice of this subject is motivated by the reality that Indonesia society, especially the rural area, communities prefers to adjudicate issues and cases concerning marriage, divorce and polygamy within the framework of their traditional practice of Islam as opposed that the Indonesian legal network (Sanjakdar, 2011). In many cases, cases are refer to local traditional adjudicators such as , imams and elders of the community rather than the national court system in the location they find it economical and practical to present their problems and cases to local leaders compare to the cumbersome, and economically draining formal justice system.

Review of Literature

The Islamic sexual morality is principally different new sexual morality in that it disallows the concept of free sex. Islam intends at teaching its faithful not to repress their sexual urges, but to realize them, in a responsible way. Islam acknowledges the sexual needs of humans and teaches that the natural impulses should be fostered, not suppressed (Gadelrab, 2010). Islam teaches that, the biological parts of human have a use; they have not been created for nothing. In Islamic teaching, no text can be found to liken sex with natural evil or sin. Islam recommends marriage as a good deed and not an evil. Thus, Islam opposes celibacy and monasticism, and believes that marriage doe not hinder spiritual wellbeing of an individual rather helps it. Indonesian society being a predominately Islamic has much of the Koran teaching enshrined in the sex life of the community (Valerie, 2001). The right of the people with alternative sex-orientation is not recognised under the constitution, although such groups are increasingly becoming vocal and demand for recognition (Baden, 2001). The national criminal code does not prohibit non-commercial same-sex relation between two agreeing adults. A Bill to criminalize same sax marriage did not pass in 2003 (Agha, 2002).

According to Sanjakdar (2011), the ethical principles of the Islamic legal system, advising that a strict reading of scripture has often had grave consequences for parts of Muslim society. Reading from both religious and secular sources, Sanjakdar argues that divinely preordained law is commonly misunderstood by Muslim leadership at the detriment of certain groups, especially women; locating a series of inequality in Islamic society, from outlawing on women driving to the restrictions. One generally held observation is that women in Muslim communities are expected to be fully submissive to their husbands (Baden, 2001). The Koran in fact, categorises the affiliation between husband and wife as one of “gentle touch”, (Sanjakdar, 2011). The belief in submission is anchored not in scripture but in cultural scripts.


Dependent variable: sexuality

Sexuality is a broad subject that covers a wide range of phenomenon. It ranges from describing people sexual orientation, reproductive life and gender. Some people express their sexuality in the confinement of marriage while others as a tool for liberation and self-expression. The risk rating related to sexuality includes sexually transmitted diseases, stereo-typing, gender and sexual related discrimination and violence. Social development ratings of society use such information as gender violence, women rights and rights of the same-sex relations tolerance. Other organizations such as World Health Organization rely on surveys to rate countries’ reproductive health status. In order to make a conclusion, the respondents will be sampled from 18 years to 79 year of age.

Independent variables: 

Religion beliefs: religious beliefs in the Indonesian society affect Indonesian population sexuality such as male circumcision which practiced in Muslim culture. In Muslim culture, men and women are expected to behave in accordance with social cultural and religious code.

Women liberation advocacy: there have been more advocacies for women to have more say on their sexuality in the Indonesian culture. More women are have become liberated from the yoke of cultural stereotype and discrimination than in the traditional Islamic culture years ago.

Gay Movement: there is more campaign for recognition and tolerance of people of same sex orientation. In 2003, a bill seeking to ban homosexuality was shot down and there is recognition for consenting adults practicing same sex relationships for non-commercial purposes.

Education, especially sex education: schools system has adopted the sex education to teach to children at an early age. Sex is no longer a taboo topic in most communities, especially in urban areas.

Law: legally, all girls in Indonesian have a right to education and early marriage for girl child is prohibited by the law. This has increased the age girls get married in Indonesia.

People perception: the Indonesian society view sexual issues as an embarrassment to be talked in public.

Data collection          

In the gathering of data for this study, the researcher used several of qualitative research methods such as documentary analysis, interviews and case studies. These were conducted in three phases, as follows:


  • Library/Documentary analysis was conducted to collect data on Islam, rights of women and gender justice. During this phase, a review of related literature was also done.  This research activity was conducted in chosen libraries such as the University of Jakarta Islamic Studies Library in Jakarta, Islamic Contemporary Teachings in Median University Law School Library in Atlanta, Georgia, USA; and also internet documents available.

Phase 2

  • Intensive interviews through focus group discussions [FGD] and key informant interviews [KII] especially with the Jakarta province men and women, imam (religious leader), elders, advocates of women’s rights, Non Governmental Organizations, and others who are working to promote and create awareness on sex education, women’s rights and gender justice were undertaken. These particular activities were conducted in the Jakarta community in palu in, Indonesia

The KIIs were conducted from March 23 to April 11, 2012 in seven (7) municipalities of Palu. The key informants are listed in Appendix A of this report and the profiles of the respondents are shown in Tables 1-3.

The representation by ages among the respondents was chosen to draw up a picture of the current traditional Islamic viewpoint among Indonesians community of Palu. As shown in

Indonesian traditions do not allow sex or courtship before marriage.  Sex and courtship is practiced after marriage. Marriage is usually set and arranged by parents. In most cases, the grooms and brides do not even know each other before marriage.  Pre-marital sex and courtship is haram (forbidden) and a taboo within a traditional Indonesian community.  Both male and female of marrying age are not allowed to choose their future husband or wife.  The parents are the ones who usually make the choices for their children.  This is based on the traditional family and cultural belief that parents usually know the best for their children’s interests including the choices of their spouse.

Presently however, this marital sex and courtship practice is already a thing of the past. Many of the respondents alleged that in the modern Indonesian society, fixed marriages are no longer practical in the norm of the Indonesian culture. The youths are now allowed by their parents to choose their future husbands/wives. Pre-marriage sex and courtship is also already tolerated and accepted by the majority of the people in the community, and therefore, taboo no more.  Nowadays, the Indonesians are already given freedom by their parents to choose their lifetime partners.

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