Women and HIV/AIDS

[16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence]

International Day of HIV/AIDS: Dec 1, 2018

Tiga perempuan, tiga latar belakang, tiga cerita.

Three women, three different backgrounds, three stories

Women and HIV/AIDS. Going against the stigma.

Jauhi penyakitnya BUKAN orangnya.
Avoid the disease, NOT the person.

Jangan jadikan sebuah penyakit sebagai alasan untuk melakukan kekerasan (verbal maupun fisik) terhadap perempuan (atau siapapun).

Don’t let it be an excuse for violence of any kind against women or anyone.

Day 5/16: NO

First of all, if you are not a podcast listener kind of person, I apologise.  These next few posts will be podcast-based.

My tips for new podcast-listeners is to try listening to it on your commute (to work, to school, wherever you are going) with an earphone (I sometimes also listen to it before bed).  Once your brain is used to this idea, you can listen to it as you’re exercising, cooking, well, basically you can do it as you multi task and really, I swear by it! It’s the BEST!

For today’s post, I am sharing a podcast from www.theheartradio.org . It is a series called, “NO”.  This series first aired in early 2017 before the “metoo” movement but then became part of it and I’d say it is also relevant to this year’s #hearmetoo movement.

In this four-part series, Kaitlin explores her sexual boundaries from youth to adulthood. She looks at the meaning of consent beyond “No means No and Yes means yes”. She looks at the social dynamic where sex is the universal currency. She talks to people her age, older, male, female, everyone.

She recorded the audio of herself making out with someone and had said no. She listened to it again and took out the words to see if her intonation matched the rejection she was voicing. Why wasn’t it heard?  Why was it misunderstood?

Here is a link to: NO

Hit me up if you have any comments or share your stories using #hearmetoo


Day 4 of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence: Redefining Strong Women

I was 16 and in high school. Awkward as can be. Some of my friends have fully developed and seemed to be so sure of themselves and their sexuality.  They seemed to know how to flirt effortlessly. They knew how to wave their hair the right way, walk the right way, and say the right things at the right time.

Not me.

I grew up around strong women who defined how a woman should be for me. My grandma from my mom side is a simple woman with big dreams. Selling siomay (dimsum) and taoco (fermented soy beans) in the wet market and supplying it to supermarkets, she dreamed of sending all her children to university.

She did.

And to Germany too nonetheless.

My other grandma from my dad side was really small in stature but you would never notice that when you are in her presence.  She raised 8 children while running a dairy farm with my grandpa. She raised a beautiful vegetable garden, cook up a storm for everyone every single day, sew all our clothes and at the same time, she also somehow managed to find the time to start a co-op in the area and received a presidential award for it. Despite her small stature, she had the ability to fill the room with her ideas and energy.

I have 6 aunts from my dad side, and two from my mom side. All are portraying the same image. They are all hard workers, smart, witty, and brave.

From a very early age, my cousins and I (which mostly are also girls), were taught to do all these things too. We learned to gossip about boys while keeping our hands at a steady rhythm cleaning my grandmother’s freshly picked cloves.

We learned to dance and sing along to MTV videos without spilling the milk we were packing into small plastic bags to sell.

Surrounded by all these women in my life, you would think that I would grow up comfortable being around woman.

I did.

In my house.

Within the confines of my family.

But outside of that, the women I was surrounded with were different.

The women around me knew how to put on flawless make up including the ever elusive no make-up make up. No one ever taught me to put on make-up.

The women around me knew just what the latest trend is and how to look effortlessly trendy.

But we never had any fashion magazine lying around the house.

The women around me knew how to laugh coquettishly while all the women in my family would simply just burst out laughing.

The women around me knew how to keep boys on their toes, but no one ever taught me how to deal with boys, except for the one mantra my grandmother always said in loop: “Make sure you are never dependent on anyone but yourself.”

So when my hormones kicked in and boys started to seem interesting, I didn’t know the first thing about getting them interested in me as more than just friends. I had a lot of male friends. Some of my very best friends until today are still males. But that was just it. I was one of them and not exactly their object of desires.

I spent my youth in a constant battle with myself. When boys showed interests in me, I felt like they have betrayed our pact of friendship. When they didn’t, I felt undesired and it brought me down. When I felt down, I turned it into anger.

It was a time I never wanted to go back to.

I was 16 and my best friend at the time was a very sexual girl. She flirted with men who were 10-15 years older than us. She would hit up with strangers we met at cafés, movie theatres, clubs, anywhere really . She was everything I have never known before.

In a world where sex is a universal social currency, she was rich and I was darn poor.

Hanging out with her was an exciting experience for me. She would break all the rules without blinking. If she needed a new dress to go to a party, she would just stole one from the nearest department store. If she saw someone she liked, she would roll up her skirt, opened up a button, and walked up to the person. She was oozing with confidence and sex appeal. Or in short, she was oozing with everything I never knew.

I remember talking to my grandma (of all people) about it and she told me that there is a time in every woman’s life where you just bloom and attract bees (I think she meant boys). The difference between each woman would just be the number of bees you attract.  Some attracts many, some attracts a few, and some would just attract one. She stopped short from telling me which category she thought I would fall under.

One night, my friend and I went to a café we’ve been frequenting because she was interested in one of the band members there. As she was talking to them, I decided to go to the toilet. As I entered the cubicle, one of the café’s  staff forced himself into the cubicle I was entering. I’ve always thought he was hot and cute but the fact that he just showed up and forced himself into the cubicle scared me senseless.

I told him to get out. He grabbed my waist instead.

I told him to stop. He kissed me instead.

I pushed him away, he grabbed my breasts.

All the alarms have gone off in my head but yet, there was a nagging fear of reacting stronger. What would he think of me if I screamed? What would my friend say if she knew I cried just because someone kissed me? What is happening to me right now is nothing compared to the stories of her sexual adventures. As my brain was doing this gymnastic, my body was reacting to the touches and I felt betrayed. In the end, it was the embarrassment and anger of my body’s betrayal that pushed me to give it my all to push past this man and ran out. I kept running until I found a public phone and called my dad.

It was 2 am in the morning. Two hours past the time I told him I was going to be home. He picked up the phone and all I could say was, “Please pick me up.” He did. He showed up in record time and picked me up.  He stayed behind the wheel without a word. Clenching his fist as I sat there quietly. He stopped at the side of the road to get me hot chocolate. I waited for him to ask me questions or to get angry. But he never did.  As I lay in bed that night, he came into my room and kissed my forehead, “Thank you for calling me. I am glad you did.” And that was all that was ever said about that night.

My friend never bothered checking in on me that night and when she asked me about it the next morning, I was too angry to answer. I was angry at so many things. I was angry at myself for not standing my ground. I was angry at the man for forcing himself onto me. I was angry at my friend. I was angry at my body for betraying me. But despite all the things I was angry about, I was grateful that I had sense enough to call home. I was grateful that my dad didn’t ask for any explanation or blamed me for being stupid.

Fast forward 20 somewhat years later. As I am writing this, I can vividly remember the brain gymnastic I did that night.  Along with it, I also remember all the times in the past 20 years that I had sex that I didn’t really enjoy but went through with it anyway. I remember all the times I gave up saying no because I felt l didn’t have a choice.

Why did I feel like I didn’t have a choice?

Why did I go along and had sex I didn’t really want?

Was it the need to belong? Or was it the need to feel desired?

Was it hormones? Or was it my insecurities?

Why was I so scared of breaking the peace of everyone around me?

Why did I feel the happiness of others is more important than my own?

My grandmother from my mom side said she never loved my grandpa. She was in love with someone else, but was forced to marry my grandpa instead. She used to tell us how every sexual intercourse felt like rape. It never used to make sense to me why she would agree to feeling this way all her life. But now I think I can understand her better. It was the feeling of not having a choice. It was the need to be a good daughter and follow her parents’ will.  It was the feeling of having to be strong and not complain.

I grew up among strong women. Strong amazing women who are crazy as shit and who love their kids to the edge of sanity. I grew up among them and became one of them.

But now I realize that maybe we are defining the word “strong” all wrong.

Maybe being strong doesn’t mean enduring our pain without complaining. Maybe being strong means that we can endure the consequences of speaking up. Maybe being brave should mean being brave enough to claim our own happiness.

Writing this down has not been easy even after all the years that has passed and where I am today.  There is still discomfort about airing your own dirty laundry.  There is still worry that I might be hurting others by writing this. There are still insecurities because this time, I don’t have my dad who could come and keep me safe.

But it’s time to discuss this more openly. It is time for us to reflect and discuss why after all that has been done in the women’s movement, many women are still doing a brain gymnastic when faced with violence.  Why are we still not comfortable talking about our experiences with violence? Why are we still not able to create a safe zone for women to talk, to speak, and to share their experiences?

We still have a lot of homework to do. And we need to start doing it now.

In our name, in the name of our foremothers, in the name of our daughters, in the name of our sons, in the name of women and girls everywhere.

#speakup #hearmetoo #tellyourstory #shareyourstories





Stop Violence Against Women

Day/Post 1:

Making this video is very special for me. As a woman and a mother of two daughters, violence in all its different forms have unfortunately been too close.

1 in every 3 women have experience violence.

This is a crazy huge statistic!  One is one too many already, don’t you agree?

It was also great to have the opportunity to work with these amazing Indonesian influencers in this video.  We share stories and thoughts, and ideas.

But we need more. The world need to hear more stories. We need more ideas and thoughts. So share your story. share this story. and #hearmetoo.

Special thanks to #unwomen for the opportunity to work on this project!

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence

Every year, the world dedicates 16 days of activism against gender-biased violence. I think we need to challenge violence every single day. But, 16 days of having people think about violence against women and girls are better than none.

Every year, the count 16 days starts on November 25th and ends on Dec 10 on the International day of Human Rights.

This year, I am going to share a post a day in relations to gender-based violence. Some will be my own experience, some will be books or podcasts or talks that have inspired me or ones that I think are important for us to discuss.

We have a lot of homework still. So, let’s get started! 🙂

Feel free to share the posts, share your own stories, your own thoughts, and let’s have a healthy open discussion. Remember, #spreadlovenothate .

Because violence should never be tolerated.

#speakup #standup

The Power of Stories

“The truly unique feature of our language is…the ability to transit information about things that do not exist at all. As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched, or smelled.”
– Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Once upon a time, we were not the only human species that roamed the earth. We had our bigger, stronger brothers and sisters that fall under the Homo Neanderthal species, we also had our smaller brothers and sisters in the eastern part of Indonesia, Flores. But in the end, it is only our species, Homo Sapiens, that survived the test of time until today.


“The secret was probably the appearance of fiction. Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.”
-Yuval Noah Harari

It is our species’ unique ability to tell stories that left us as the only human species in the world.

According to the Replacement theory of human existence, Homo Sapiens beat all other human species in the classic story story of survival of the fittest, simply because we are the only one that has the ability to tell stories.

Such is the power of stories that it unites us in a shared narrative and provides us with a shared experience without ever having to meet the people we are sharing it with.

We are all connected to each other through one sort of narrative or another. Some of the most powerful stories in human history is the story of a higher being or religion. Throughout history, we have seen the power of this shared story of beliefs both in good and bad ways. The story of heaven and hell in the afterlife has led people to forego food, sexual desires and even kill others.

People used to have to meet one another to pass on the stories orally. As humanity develops and written language is found, we put our stories down on tree balks, rock tablets, papers, and shared our stories through these mediums. In today’s digital world, sharing stories has never been easier. With a single click of a button, you can share your story with someone on the other side of the globe.

A homeless man in Philadelphia, U.S, gave his last USD 20 to a stranded couple so they can buy gas. The couple was so touched and inspired that they decided to share the story that connects them with this man through a digital platform called GoFundMe. Soon enough, the story connected them with 14,000 more people around the world who then put together over USD 400,000 to get this homeless man off the street.

As we established the power of stories, the next question would be: How do we make our stories stand out and gain the attention of those we are intending?

Every day, we are living through a sea of stories –be it our own stories, stories of those around us, and when we turn to our phones or other blue screens in our lives, stories of billions of others. With the immense size of stories out there, what would draw people to your stories? What do they need to find in your story that would make them want to share it to their circle of friends and families?

First of all, a story needs to fulfill one (or more) of these purposes:
1. Informational
Does your story offer new information that is important to your audience? If so, they may want to share this information to others in their circle that may need the same information.

2. Entertaining
Are you making your audience laugh? Or smile? Or even cry? If your audience can emotionally connect to your story, they are likely to share it with those around them.

3. Enlightening
Are you offering a new perspective on something? Or a fresh look on something seemingly mundane? If your story enlightens your audience, they too would want to enlighten those around them

Better yet, does your story serve more than one of the three main purposes?

Everyone has a story. Thus, everyone is a storyteller by nature. But how to tell your stories to connect with others and for your stories to make an impact on the lives of others, is a craft that needs to be practiced.

So go out and tell your story! Share it with your friends, share it with your family and share it with us too!


[1]Replacement Theory is the opposing view of Interbreeding Theory. According to this theory, Sapiens and other humans had different anatomies, and most likely different mating habits and body odors. Thus, there would be little to no sexual interest to interbreed with other human species.


You are a Woman

You are a woman

but above all, you are also a person

don’t let anyone forget that.

You should not be defined less than who you are as a fellow human being

You are a woman

Your body looks like one

You have breasts, a vagina and a uterus

they are all yours and yours alone

Take care of them and don’t let anyone tell you how they should look like, take advantage of it, use you for it or govern it for you.

They’re yours to take care of, protect and enjoy.

Everyone has different bodies.

It’s ok.

Respect others as you respect yours.

You don’t have to look like everyone else

You are a woman

you consist more than your boobs, vagina and uterus

You have a brain

use it.

you have a heart.

use it.

be critical, have empathy, and fight.

I love you.



“Pilihlah untuk bahagia”

Kalau hidup ini memang serangkaian pilihan ganda,

tidakkah pilihan bahagia ini harusnya ditiadakan untuk mereka yang bangsat?

Katanya lagi,

“Maafkan dirimu sendiri dan melihatlah ke depan.”

Aku tidak bisa memaafkan diriku.

Karena aku tidak salah apa-apa.

Aku hanya pulang sekolah

tanpa pikiran apa-apa

Aku tidak dapat melihat ke depan

Aku bahkan tidak bisa menutup mata

Kalian rusak tubuhku dengan birahi

kalian koyak jiwaku dengan alasan…



Apakah kalian bisa memaafkan diri kalian dan memilih untuk bahagia?

Harusnya pilihan itu tak lagi ada untuk kalian.

Ketika aku ditemukan di pinggir jalan

Mereka yang menolongku sibuk berbisik

Kasian ya anak ini….pergaulannya salah sih…

Ah, rok sekolahnya kurang panjang sih…

Di kitab manakah ada tertulis bahwa panjang rok seorang perempuan menentukan haknya untuk berjalan dengan aman?

Doa ibu mana yang memberikan anaknya hak untuk mengambil pilihan hidup anak orang lain?


Sayang napasku telah kau putus.

Hingga ku tak lagi mampu mengendus.

Tapi harapku belum pupus

Ku harap tititmu segera putus.


In memory of Yuyun

Di tahun 2016, seorang anak perempuan berusia 13 tahun, diperkosa 14 orang kakak kelasnya yang kemudian membuang tubuhnya ke dalam jurang. Korban ditemukan beberapa hari kemudian dalam keadaan tanpa nyawa dengan tulang pinggang yang patah dan luka-luka. 

Selama kasus berlangsung, keluarga korban terpaksa pindah dari kediamannya karena tidak nyaman dengan perlakukan para keluarga pelaku.  

The case itself was infuriating.  Especially the comments and how it was reported. The fact that the family had to move was even MORE infuriating. In what world can the family of the perpetrators have the guts and the gully to bully the family who just lost their daughter because of your failure to raise you sons?

My fury of her death is shared by many and has led to the review of our Child Protection Law.