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Monday, March 13, 2006

Family Name

Some weeks ago when substituting a friend to teach her class, I interviewed the students how many children their parents have. Two students attracted me coz they said that their parents have five children. In this era, after the success of family planning program, to have children more than three is considered a big family. The funny thing is one student said that the four children were boys and the youngest was a girl; while the other student was contradictory, the four children were girls, and the youngest was a boy.

Well, one proof of the success of family planning program in Indonesia, besides that people now have a big tendency to have only two and maximally three children in one family, regardless the sex, people do not really mind whether they only have daughters or sons. This is especially in Java island, the most populated island in Indonesia. :) FYI, Javanese people do not use family name behind their name. Although, well in the case I wrote in the above paragraph, it is not really so. Jokingly, I talked to the students that their parents wouldn’t stop “producing” babies before they got the baby they wanted, a boy or a girl. :) To some “old-fashioned” people, I assume that people still want to have children with the two sexes, male and female. :)

However, I still remember some years ago, I interviewed a student who is from Batak, an ethnic group in

Indonesia where the people use family names behind their names. To Batak people, having a baby boy is important, to continue the family name coz after getting married, a woman no longer uses her own family name from her father, but uses the family name from her husband. This absolutely creates a lot of gender-biased problems. For example, a woman is not treated well only coz she cannot give the husband a baby boy; or a man feels that he deserves to have another wife only to have a baby boy; a baby girl is not treated as well as a baby boy coz this baby girl later on cannot pass on the family name to the grandchildren.

I told this student that nowadays women could keep their family name when they want it after they get married. They do not always have to leave their family name behind and use the family name from their husbands instead. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 16:1g stated that women have equal right with men to choose a family name, be it the family name they got from their parents (either the father or the mother), or from their husband.

This convention guarantees a family name will not disappear although a family doesn’t have a son. With this, a woman will not be forced to “produce” a lot of babies before she can “give” a baby son to her husband only to pass on the family name to his offspring.

Indonesia is one of many countries that has ratified this convention. (Source: Rights of Women: A Guide to the Most Important United Nations Treaties on Women’s Human Rights, translated into Bahasa Indonesia in 2001 published by Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan).

1 comment:

jiwakitamerdeka said...

The way Islam teaches us that we are getting boys or girls do not matter. What is more important is to be an obedient of God wherever we Indonesia or the universe that He Created.

Thanks for our predecessors for giving us the Light. We still have to do our homework for our youngsters....