Divorce and Muslim Women’s Empowerment in Indonesia
Wednesday Forum – 02 November 2022
Muslim family law is a crucial determinant of women’s rights in many Muslim settings. Muslim family law is commonly interpreted to stipulate a family structure in which husbands are breadwinners and household leaders while wives are responsible for the domestic realm and may be expected to obey their husbands. However, gender norms and practices in majority Muslim societies have changed, with increasing numbers of women pursuing higher education and careers. This study examines Indonesian Muslim women’s divorce narratives during a period of increasing divorce cases. I find that by facilitating women’s exit from marriages, Indonesia’s Islamic courts accommodate women’s changing expectations of marriage. The case of Indonesia illuminates how a religious legal system may have unintended consequences, promoting women’s higher aspirations for marriage and potentially shifting gender norms more broadly.
Rachel Rinaldo is associate professor of sociology and faculty director of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is currently on sabbatical as a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia, conducting research on women and work in the COVID era.
The full poster of this event is available here.