perempuan berkalung sorban

January 27, 2009

Bram and I haven’t been to the cinema in ages, and we wanted to watch an Indonesian movie (since foreign films are easier to get on dvd, you don’t have indonesian pirated ones, so it’s better to watch em in the cinema!) and my two brothers tagged along. We decided to watch this movie cos some people gave it a good review.

Don’t ask me about the technicalities of the film- who directed it, who wrote the book it was based on, the whole list of actors- because i don’t know those kind of things (and my dear friend can help you out with that). but basically i am intrigued by the story line; it’s taking a contraversial issue such as religion as it’s focal point, daring to raise issues in areas where people would know better not to touch.

Being born and raised in a pesantren (religious school) learning life through the Quran, Sunnah and Hadist, the main character, a young girl, believes that Islam does not treat women and men equally. She finds that throughout her life, men are always given the special treatment. During a democratic election for class president, she wins the votes yet her rival wins because ‘women aren’t allowed to be leaders in Islam’. When she finishes highschool, her father forbids her to study in Jogja with a scholarship because it can ‘make fitnah happen’ while her two brothers are sent to study abroad, selling all their family’s investments just to pay the tuition. She is then reluctantly trapped into an abusive marriage with a family friend, while her one and only true love disappears to Cairo.

The first half of the movie passed with me feeling anxious- each scene depicted such violence and mistreatment to women that made my blood boil. I felt lucky to be raised within a moderate Islamic family- one that believes in modernism yet still tries to maintain our religious roots. But several years before, thought not under the same circumstances as the lead character in the film, I had believed in the same thing. I felt that Islam treated women differently- and it was a tremendous clash to feminism and the modern way of life. In some ways, it was the obvious- women are the child bearers, men are not- but in other ways it was formed through culture; why is men viewed as the breadwinner while women should stay home as housewives and wait for her husband to come home and cook him dinner?

I believe that conservatives, should understand that this is a new era, one totally different from when the Quran was born. The Quran was born under devastating and uncivilized times. Now, past the enlightment period, we are in the era of technology- and not everything from the Quran can be fully implemented the way it says. Times has changed, and so has people. The basic clash between fundamentalists right now is based upon this- the idea that some still want to grip tightly towards the past. We cannot always live in the past- we must be able to adapt towards the present in order to strive into the future, and that’s what the film is also trying to say.

It’s also interesting to see that the Indonesian film industry is taking a like towards religious undertoned films- especially since the success of Ayat-ayat Cinta a few months ago. And i’d have to say that they were able to deliver moral messages in such a way that is modern and yet still supports our religious beliefs. bravo to that. It was especially intriguing to see the struggle a women has gone through to fight for her rights (especially since I just finished my internship at the Directorate of Human Rights and Humanitarian affairs- where I researched on Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights) which doesn’t only happen within religious circumstances. Our culture is still built through that way, which favours men over women, yet I am pleased to say that our government is taking a large step forward for the development of women’s rights, by giving women platforms to experience equality within a man’s world.

Well I’d say that this film is enlightening and eyeopening for women and men alike, and i’d recommend it for those who wants to see another side of Islam. Although some parts was just darn-right cheesy, others scenes did manage to tickle my inner crybaby. Go watch it and support the Indonesian film industry!


Perempuan berkalung sorban translates; the girl wearing a sorban/keffiyeh
*In conservative terms, keffiyehs are most likely worn by males.


One Response to “perempuan berkalung sorban”

  1. […] This did peak my interest in said film. So, in a quick google search, I found an Indonesian blogger in Malaysia, who had seen it and, conveniently, wrote about it in English! Thank you “Forever Journeys on Golden Avenues!” […]

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