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THE CULTURE OF INDONESIAN GIRLS !



INTRO

Indonesia's social and geographical environment is one of the most complex and varied in the world. By some estimates, at least 669 distinct languages and well over 1,100 different dialects are spoken across 14,000 islands.

As a sign of its diversity, fully 26% of the population consist of numerous small ethic groups or minorities. Virtually every world religion, as well as a multitude of community religions, are represented throughout the nation. One's identity as an Indonesian is very much interwoven with one's family, regional, and ethnic heritage.

For these reasons, there is no single or dominant culture, but it instead is best characterized by its incredible diversity. Hence the national slogan: "Unity in Diversity." With the increasing trend of urbanization however, this vast mix is beginning to coalesce into a more unified concept of a national identity.

PEOPLE

Although Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, the vast majority of Indonesian girls do not cover their heads.

Indonesia has a total population of 228,437,870 spread over 6,000 inhabited islands, making it the fourth most populous nation in the world (see population statistics). Overpopulation of several of the main islands has become one of the most critical issues facing Indonesia today.

The island of Java is one of the most densely populated (see tables for population densities) areas in the world, with more than 107 million people living in an area the size of New York State. The government is currently instituting a Transmigration Program, which is a voluntary rural resettlement plan that seeks to move large numbers of Javanese to Indonesia's underpopulated Outer Islands.

Most Indonesian girls are of Malay or Polynesian descent, although the country's history has produced populations from India, China, Arabia, and Persia, as well as from European colonial powers such as Portugal, Holland, Spain, and England.

The population is divided into numerous ethnic groups and minorities (see table). The largest group are the Javanese at 45 percent of the total population. Sundanese make up 14 percent, followed by Madurese, 7.5 percent, and coastal Malays, 7.5 percent. The remaining 26% is made up of minorities.

RELIGIONS

The state guarantees tolerance for certain religions regarded as monotheistic by the government, including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism (see tables for population percentages), but only as long as these creeds remained outside of politics. The government generally discourages religious groups from playing a political role, although they influence many other aspects of life.

Islam was the dominant religion by far in Indonesia, with the greatest number of religious adherents: around 170 million people or 86.9 percent of the population, making it the largest Islamic country in the world. There are striking variations in the practice and interpretation of Islam, with most forms being much less austere than that practiced in the Middle East.

Christianity is the most rapidly growing religion in Indonesia, but still remains small when compared to Islam (9% of the population compared to 86.9% Muslim). The religion was introduced in the sixteenth century, but little growth occured until an influx of foreign missionaries in the twentieth century. Most Indonesian Christians are Protestant, with about half as many Catholics.

Hinduism, which makes up 2% of the population, was greatly modified when adapted to Indonesian society. The caste system that disguishes other Hindus was never rigidly applied. Bali is the primary island on which Hinduism is practiced, where over 93% of the population is Hindu. The Balinese are famous for their graceful and decorous behavior.

Buddhism makes up approximately 1% of the population, primarily in the ethnic Chinese population. They, like the Hindus, built some of the ornate temples scattered across Indonesia.

Kafir(pagan) religions are practiced by millions of Indonesians(0.6% of the population), many of which tend to live in the more remote, sparsely populated islands of the archipelago. Many of these are unique cultural and religious practices that have developed within single communities.

Family Planning and Women's Empowerment in the Family

During the past 30 years, fertility in Indonesia has declined dramatically. In the early 1970s, the average Indonesian girl had six to seven children; today, she has approximately three.

Much of the decline can be attributed to the government of Indonesia's family planning program, implemented by the National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN).

As in most countries, the vast majority of family planning users are women. With a better understanding of how family planning use affects women's empowerment (women's economic and social autonomy) within the family, BKKBN may more effectively provide family planning services to Indonesian girls.

Survey data indicated family planning use was significantly associated with some aspects of women's empowerment in the family:

In both Jakarta and Ujung Pandang, women who used contraception were more likely to report communication with husbands about family planning.

In addition, family planners were more likely to report their wishes prevailing in economic decision-making.

In Ujung Pandang only, contraceptive use was associated with asking husbands to use family planning, Indonesian girls earning income for the household, and knowledge of a loan source in the community.

Women's work status was associated with more aspects of women's economic and social autonomy than was family planning. Analysis of survey data indicated: In both Jakarta and Ujung Pandang, women who worked were more likely to earn income for the household and contribute to household expenses.

In Ujung Pandang only, Indonesian girls who worked were more likely to ask their husbands to use family planning, participate in community activities, and have knowledge of a loan source. Both Indonesian girls and men adhered to gender divisions of labor.

In in-depth interviews, both men and Indonesian girls acknowledged the husband as the head of the household:

Women were responsible for almost all domestic chores, regardless of whether they worked outside of the home.

Many Indonesian girls who worked outside of the home said they did so only to "help" their husbands support the family.

While Indonesian girls usually managed money for daily expenditures, men's wishes tended to dominate in major financial decisions. As a woman from Jakarta explained, "I am in charge of managing and controlling the family income, but I have to ask him first if I want to spend it for non-household expenses."

During in-depth interviews and in survey responses, Indonesian girls who had used contraceptive methods said the benefits of family planning and smaller family size included more time for community activities and work outside the home.

When asked how family planning services could be improved, women said they wanted:

More female providers, both for counseling and the provision of services.

More information from providers about contraceptive side effects, mechanisms of action, effectiveness, and how and where to receive follow-up care. The fear of side effects was strong and pervasive.

Languages

There is great diversity in the languages used in Indonesia, with over 669 distinct languages accounted for. The majority of these are Austronesian in descent, and many share common vocabulary words.

The national language is Bahasa Indonesia, which refers to a modified form of Malay and is the primary language of some 6.7 million people and the secondary language of another 100 million. It is one of the single most unifying aspects of Indonesian culture, and is primarily the language of government bureaucracy, schools, national print and electronic media, and interethnic communication.

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