Stories of Positive Deviant families in Indonesia
Pak Lasimon is an Indonesian farmer with a wife and four children. Like most other households in the community, they have a small, .8 hectare piece of land. Pak Lasimon differs from others in Gadung Sari in that he has publicly come out in opposition to allowing girls to work in the entertainment industry. Pak and Bu Lasimon believe that their children should only obtain work that does not violate legal or religious laws, such as employment in a supermarket, factory or restaurant.
Both husband and wife believe that working in a massage parlor or other segment of the sex industry (‘buka dasar') violates both their religious beliefs and the law. Pak Lasimun is concerned that if his daughter worked in a massage parlor news of her employment would spread to his neighbors and to other villages bringing shame to his family . Both husband and wife fear that, if their daughter were to work in a massage parlor, she would come under the influence of her friends and would begin to drink and spend money without regard for the future. If their daughter were to return to the village unmarried and pregnant, the whole family would have to take care of the grandchild, bringing economic hardship and shame. Her future offspring (including daughters and granddaughters) would also end up working in a massage parlor, as they will inherit (‘turus') this from their mother. Pak Lasimun says that he has witnessed this happen to some of his neighbors and relatives who gave permission to their daughters to work in Ujung Pandang.
Despite economic hardships, Pak Lasimon has been able to keep his daughters out of the entertainment industry and provide all of his children with a good education. His eldest son and daughter have both completed junior high school. His eldest son is now employed in Malang and his older daughter is working as a shopkeeper in Bali. His third child, a son, is attending the university in Malang where he lives with his younger sister who is working in a large supermarket.”
Pak Lasimon's unique strategies to keep his daughters from joining the entertainment industry are illustrated by the local proverb: “Which translates into permitting his daughter to talk to girls returning from “entertainment industry” but sit down with daughters immediately after to listen and discuss what they talked about. Another strategy is to list and share the list the risks of working in the sex industry (physical abuse, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, shame to girl and family, decreased marriage prospects) in a non –confrontational way
Challenges of Female Genital Mutilation Practices (FGM)
Mohammed comes from Abu Bakr, Alexandria governorate, and has 4 daughters. Two of them are circumcised but the younger of the 2 nearly bled to death during the circumcision, so he decided not to circumcise his third and fourth daughters.
Mohammed said, “For the last 5 years, I have not been able to sleep, wondering if I took the right decision! Then this program began and the LNGO invited me to hear doctors and sheikhs speak out against the practice, it was a great blessing for me. I now KNOW I did the right thing!”
“Now, I actively talk to other men in the village and tell them not to circumcise their daughters. I say to them: ‘Look at me! I have 4 daughters. All, as you well know, are good and virtuous women: two are circumcised and two are not. The only difference between them is 2 were badly hurt, and the other 2 were not!'”
Naglaa's Story: How one mother came to reject an ancient tradition
Naglaa is 26, married, and has an eight year old daughter, Mona. Until last July, Naglaa believed she had no option but to subject Mona to the same painful practice she herself suffered. She thought that it was a necessary requirement in order for a girl to be accepted in marriage without stigma. Then Naglaa's mother convinced her to attend a workshop on female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) in Alexandria. She heard religious leaders, doctors and other professionals from NGOs discussing the complex implications of FGM/C and its different physical and physiological consequences. The religious leaders convinced her that there was no justification in the Quran for the practice. “From now on, I will never care about what people say about my non-circumcised daughter,” says Naglaa resolutely. “Because of my decision, she will avoid a lifetime of suffering. She will lead a healthier life than either her grandmother or me. If a man will repudiate her because she isn't circumcised, I'll stand by her side. A girl doesn't become a prostitute because she has not undergone the cutting. If a mother loves her daughter, she must care about her education and her health more than anything else. This is why I became involved in the FGM Abandonment Program.”
Naglaa works in the Cairo suburb of Ain Helwan, where she lives. Because of her efforts, more and more women are changing their minds about FGM/C. The process is encouraged by the Child at Risk Programme, a community-level intervention implemented by NGO Integrated Care Society, with the support of UNICEF.
The Story of a Young Man from Qena: PD in FGM Abandonment advocacy
The man was married with 4 children: 3 girls and one boy. As a young man, he always liked to read, and one of his favorite magazines was The Private Doctor. He learned about circumcision from this magazine. He read letters to the editors where fathers would explain what had happened to their daughters. So he understood the disadvantages of circumcision before he got married.
His 23 year old sister is not circumcised because she was disabled and the family thought that she would not marry. She went to university and is married now!
At an IEC training in reproductive health, the doctor asked his audience who could talk about female circumcision. He stood up and talked to the audience about what he knew.
Subsequently, he got married to a circumcised woman and his first child, a girl, was circumcised against his will. “It was the season for circumcision and my daughter was 2 ½ years old. When I found out, we had a fight about it.” For his second daughter he fought unsuccessfully with his mother-in-law, and his second daughter was circumcised at 12 months. “She bled for 15 days. I wanted her to die. I told the doctor to treat her or kill her, if not I will take her to the hospital and report you.” The little girl survived. He almost got divorced over the issue. His third daughter is not circumcised and is 3 years old now.
He managed to convince a close friend not to do it, as he was sending the child to be circumcised. He has successfully convinced 2 more male friends as well.
Esma is a 20 years old young uncircumcised married woman from Qena Governorate. She attended a neighborhood meeting on FGM sponsored by the local NGO. She did not dare to share her status at the meeting, but met with the NGO person in private and “confessed” that she was uncircumcised. She was terrified at the time that disclosure of this fact would become public and bring shame on her and her family, or worth pariah status in the community.
Her husband knows about her status but has not asked her to get circumcised. She is very shy, very polite and very religious. She is also very popular and well liked by her neighbors. “I was 6 years old. They were doing the circumcision in the street. I saw the blood and was afraid, so I ran away. My family forgot about the whole thing.”
The NGO invited her to attend a CEDPA workshop and other local meetings. By witnessing others speaking freely about FGM, she mustarded the courage to speak up.
She is currently accompanying NGO members during their home visits to advocate against the practice. She has even traveled to a nearby village, where no PD individuals have been found, to support another local NGO‘s advocacy activities with her testimony.
Traditional Birth Attendant Advocates for the Elimination of FGM
Asha Mohammed of Amhara Region of Ethiopia is a well-known traditional birth attendant, a practice she inherited from her mother while she was still a young woman. Besides assisting in deliveries, Asha was also the practitioner in her village of female genital cutting (FGC), also widely known as female genital mutilation, a harmful traditional practice affecting over 132 million women around the world. Asha was proud of her work and her contributions to the community, thinking she was contributing to welcoming young girls to womanhood.
When the family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) program came to her village, Asha was invited to meet with the FP/RH supervisor at the request of the village elders who had recommended her to be a community-based agent in FP/RH. These agents provide maternal and child health and family planning/child spacing information to women in their villages as well as distributing oral contraceptives and making referrals for long term family planning methods.
After a lengthy interview, Asha was one of two women selected to represent the village in a one-month training program to be a community-based FP/RH agent. During the training, Asha learned about the physical and emotional effects of FGC on young girls. Through the many discussions with her peers and the trainers, and after contributing her own eyewitness accounts of women who suffered complications during delivery or became incontinent after trying to give birth, Asha soon realized that FGC is a harmful practice.
Asha returned to her village and spoke with the village elders, both men and women, sharing with them all she had learned. She was challenged by their questions, but they agreed to allow her to practice her new skills. A year elapsed and Asha became a very successful community-based FP/RH agent. Three young women also became the village's first example of the positive deviance approach in FGC, a methodology that focuses on individuals who have "deviated" from conventional societal expectations.
Asha worked closely with the religious and government leaders of the community before they took a joint stand to support Asha and the positive deviants against further FGC activities in the community. This is the first village in Ethiopia to do so. Asha and the community leaders were asked to speak to the sub-district officials about eradicating all FGC activity. After they agreed to do so, they found themselves involved in mitigating the conflict that resulted in some families who had difficulty deciding to stop the harmful practice. When asked about the loss of income from no longer performing circumcisions, Asha says that Allah has given her more than the money could ever have provided her.
PD Quotes from the Field
“PD is like a flashlight. It helps to shine light and illuminate what hides behind the darkness. It helps us discover what already exists. For example, it helps us discover our existing strengths we had not realized or utilized.”
~a kader, Kedoyo, Indonesia
“The PD approach is like digging with a hoe. One needs to turn the soil over to see what lies hidden and buried beneath. Then the land is ready to plant new crops.”
~Raymond, community leader in Pader District, Indonesia