Open Access Open Badges Research article

“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

Elli N Hayati123*, Maria Emmelin4 and Malin Eriksson1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

2 Faculty of Psychology, Ahmad Dahlan University, Jl. Kapas 9, Semaki, Yogyakarta 55166, Indonesia

3 Rifka Annisa Women’s Crisis Center, Jl. Jambon IV, Komplek Jatimulyo Indah, Yogyakarta 55241, Indonesia

4 Department of Clinical Sciences, Social Medicine and Global Health, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

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BMC Women's Health 2014, 14:58  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-58

Published: 16 April 2014



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.


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.


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.


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.

Domestic violence; Masculinity; Positional map; Indonesia