Single Mothers in Yogya

Nov 5th, 2008, in Society, by

Clare recounts his daughter’s experience of having a child out of wedlock in Yogyakarta.

Unmarried Motherhood in Yogya

‘You’re what!’

My wife closed my mobile and handed it back to me. I knew what she was going to say next. I had guessed about a week before and had mentioned my suspicions to my wife, but still the confirmation on the phone as we were driving downhill to Yogya had obviously come as a shock,

She is pregnant

said my wife. I laughed,

Oh goody

I replied.


my wife brought her “you have no idea what this news portends” ‘Ha!’ into play,

You are English. This isn’t England. You don’t know what this will mean. The baby will be called names at school. There will be demonstrations outside our daughter’s house. We will be disgraced.

I said stoutly:


although I had to admit I had no idea whether my wife was right or wrong on all, or any, of these points,

I am going to be a Granddad and that is all that matters at the moment; that and looking after our daughter. And you will be Granny. How does that feel?

My wife was quiet for a long time and then started to giggle,

Won’t it be lovely to have a grandchild?

It will

I agreed, but even as I agreed I knew that single motherhood in Indonesia would not be the same as single motherhood in the only other country of which I have any experience of such a thing; Britain. Our daughter was in a potentially very awkward situation, socially, and religiously.

The family swung into gear as soon as the news was disseminated. I wish I could say that this swinging into gear was supportive but it was not. The prime concern was to hide a shameful event that would now bring discredit on all and sundry. My wife’s sister in Lampung on learning that our daughter was considering going there as soon as the bump began to show, to have the baby with the Sumatra based branch of our gracious kith and kin as her support group; panicked and rang to say how this plan would be so unsuitable as she, the sister, was a teacher and her reputation would be shot.

The youngest brother in Jakarta found a man in Bandung with two children, recently divorced, who was looking for a wife. This man had a business of his own and a house. What could be better? Just send the daughter to Bandung and she and the baby would be clear of all of us and the problem would be solved.

Our daughter was insisting that an abortion was the answer, so she was no better than all the rest in viewing her pregnancy as a problem and not an accidental blessing.

My wife and I forbade everyone from talking about our future grandchild as a problem. We withdrew to our house on the volcano to the north of Yogya and had a hard think about the situation. My wife still feared real unpleasantness in and around the neighbourhood of our daughter’s house in Yogya. I said I doubted her fears were well grounded but admitted a total lack of evidence for my confidence. We did not consider an abortion as being something we could condone on a number of fronts; not least that we would be inclined to abort anyone who suggested depriving us of a grandchild. We discussed this with the daughter who demurred in bad grace and from that moment on has blamed us for what she views as the whole debacle; her original mistake, all ensuing embarrassment and costs, and, by so doing plonked full responsibility for the baby and its future into our ageing hands and care. Not, obviously, the reactions and behaviour of a rational and controlled thirty-six year old adult, which was, and remains, depressing for both me and my wife.

As the bump developed the daughter withdrew from society into her house and into her bedroom and vegetated. Eventually she was so big and needing care that she agreed to join us here in our house outside town. I could not see why she should feel forced to leave her middle class environment in the city with her neighbours, all professors at UGM (Universitas Gajah Mada) and doctors and business folk of substantial standing. Surely, I said, such people would be aware that mistakes, bad decisions, passionate affairs with married men; these things happen and this is the twenty-first century. But the daughter was adamant; she must take her shame to the countryside and hide with us amongst the orang kampung of our nearby village.

I blamed Islam for the attitudes of the snobbish middle class who were, without saying a word, causing us to bend to their petty bigotry; but our daughter explained that it was nothing to do with Islam; to have an unmarried mother in the community would bring bad luck to forty houses in all directions from the house in which the sinner dwelt. I admit I laughed long and hard at that and ridiculed it for some time before I became aware that maybe this superstition is more potent than any po-faced morality based on a misunderstanding of Islam, or Christianity for that matter; both of which religions are, as far as I can see from their books of instruction, intended to protect and care for the mistaken and the vulnerable. Maybe, I realised, a lot of what we put down to the misogyny of an Islam we are misunderstanding is in reality old fashioned Javanese superstition.

The rural community of which we are a part may (in fact I am sure they do) have much to say to one another about my wife and I and our family and our failure in not bringing our daughter up to be a chaste and proper young lady. But this community has as many skeletons rattling in its cupboard as any other anywhere in the world. We have been to weddings recently and six months later gone to the selamatans for the birth and the naming of the first child from that marriage. We noticed that no-one has remarked on the size of the baby being remarkable for a maximum six months gestation. There are little waifs and strays all over the village that are being brought up by aunts and uncles and grannies and grandpas for all sorts of reasons. And our granddaughter is now another in this pattern.

The grandexpense is three and a half months old now and a joy to all of us blessed with her care; and in this that amounts to most of the village if they are given the chance. Our daughter has returned to her life in town and her neighbourhood where the official story is that she spent some months in Jakarta with her cousin who works there. I don’t believe anyone is daft enough to believe this and in any case the house-girl network will spill the beans; but in true Javanese fashion some form of protocol has been observed that satisfies the prigs and the prudes, and I have no doubt that they feel self-righteous and can enjoy themselves with the essential title-tattle of a small neighbourhood.

It would be interesting to hear from any single mothers, and fathers for that matter, of their experiences and how these differ from the experiences of people of their parents and grandparents generations; and if on this kind of social issue Indonesia is progressing at the same pace as it is, say, in banking, or technology, or democratic reforms. I have a suspicion that, as in the west, industrial, business, and political progress tends to forge ahead as the mores of society take a while adapting to the new environment. Or, is it possible, and perhaps preferable, that the new globalised productive and political world can get on with the business of modernising and growth without altering the standards and traditions of the society of the country? Indonesia, after all, does not have to swallow the whole Western Capitalist deal in one gulp; does it? Drink, drugs, promiscuity; are these all necessarily part of modernity?

98 Comments on “Single Mothers in Yogya”

  1. john says:

    Well written and eye opening. More pls if you have any. : )

  2. Clare Phyllis says:

    Thank you John.

    My site is where there are more articles on Indonesia and on Britain and the usual links to stories connected to Indonesia that I find interesting.

    I intend developing my site as a resource for debate and information flow both ways.

  3. Purba Negoro says:

    The sneering, smug drivel of the angst-ridden middle-class Anglo yet again in his delusory all-wisdom.

    My experience was in England- a bastard is still a bastard only the liberal luvvies never call it that as they lack, what’s the term- moral fibre?

    Superstition? And of course the utterly endearing quaint traditions of Cheddar, Somerset, hobby-horses etc and the rise of neo-paganism in the UK is entirely different.

    It’s the 21st Century? Ah yes- the catch cry of the Blairite. That stupid buzzword is the verbal Millenium Dome. Utterly meaningless and entirely vacuous.

    The answer to your Islington-type Guardian-speak is a proud an unequivocal NO.
    The family unit is not the whipping boy for assault here- unlike your own ever increasingly depraved nation of “multi-dads”.
    Summarily here we call a shovel a shovel.

    A bastard is a bastard is a bastard.

    Exactly like your own British folk idiom: a dog born in a barn does not make a horse.

    No mincing mealy-mouthing about it- they are born a bastard, and will be recorded n the birth cert as a bastard.
    The child will be a constant reminder of the parents’ failures to be responsible adult.

    Maybe instead of lecturing us about your fashionable bourgeoisie cosmopolitanism and liberal fads- you could have taught your daughter to do as you yourself did and marry- or provide her with a better female role model.

    Maybe you should have reminded her of the wisdom of bibit, bebet, bobot.
    Your nation once embraced it- and look what it became- sadly now all in ruins.

    There were two other holes to stuff it- she obviously used the one with the trap to ensnare a suitor.

    How far the apple falls from the tree- we once admired your nation- and now look at you.
    The nation of Churchill and Kipling reduced to the likes of you. Be ashamed- you have every reason to be.

  4. David says:

    Off topic inanity removed, we need to be well advanced in things before I’ll allow it…

    Purba, you really need to learn to avoid personalising everything in a negative way. Here’s how it’s done…

    Clare, in Britain out of wedlock births are running at over 40% now, do you think that’s a good, bad or neutral thing? I think it’s a Very Bad Thing, children should have a mother and father, whereas many in Britain now never really have a father, or even worse, have a succession of temporary “fathers”, whoever their mother is shacking up with at the time…I believe even Guardian types are waking up to the problems and poverty this causes…

    Now it’s always going to happen of course, but societies should aim to keep the rate of it as low as possible, and I’m wondering whether the superstitions and prejudices of the people on Java (which I also find extremely annoying sometimes) serve as some kind of deterrent? Without those social pressures there’d be a lot more of it?

    Btw, I once did a story here on Illegitimate Children, about how in Surabaya they were dropping the “haram” word from out of wedlock birth certificates, some things do change….

    it was nothing to do with Islam

    Strongly doubt that – “nothing”?

    a misunderstanding of Islam

    Nobody misunderstands Islam or any other religion, there are just competing interpretations.

    both of which religions are, as far as I can see from their books of instruction, intended to protect and care for the mistaken and the vulnerable.

    Wishy washy drivel.

    I have a suspicion that, as in the west, industrial, business, and political progress tends to forge ahead as the mores of society take a while adapting to the new environment. Or, is it possible, and perhaps preferable, that the new globalised productive and political world can get on with the business of modernising and growth without altering the standards and traditions of the society of the country?

    I’ve said before, what I think is that most traditional societies are done for, long term, no reason to think that they will survive, including the Javanese, go back through history and it’s one long list of disappeared cultures and peoples.

    Indonesia, after all, does not have to swallow the whole Western Capitalist deal in one gulp; does it? Drink, drugs, promiscuity; are these all necessarily part of modernity?

    Yes. Plus I think you’ll find out of wedlock children are statistically more likely to get into said Drink, drugs, promiscuity as teenagers.

    P.S. Can’t wait till I’m a grandad someday, glad you’re enjoying it!!!!

  5. fullmoonflower says:

    Is it a sin to be a single mother? I don’t think so..
    But it will be a sin when we decided to take abortion..

  6. Patrick says:

    “Its the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law” in these matters. We should never forget that even though born out of wedlock they are just children. Compassion and understanding of the situation does not always imply full acceptance but it does imply one’s humanity to people who need it most.

    Agree with your last post 100% fullmoonflower.

  7. Purba Negoro says:

    and who exactly foots the bill?

    We have to bear the pain of a anti-social loser- a manifold times more likely to be a delinquent, drug-addict, high-school drop-out, multi-child parent/impregnator (especially if male negro- take a look at the US-UK statistics for all the limp wristed whiners), criminal, low-skilled, low-educated dnbottom feeder who will perpetuate their very shallow gene pool that sadly lacks enough chlorine to kil all the nasty contagions floating about in them.

    Summarily- it is a sin against society.
    Only the very weak and infantile claim abortion is a sin. It is using religion as a protective blanket for their own failings- exactly like the Islamic using religion to incite violence.

    Majelis Ulama and the Catholic Church of Indonesia have pronouncements that allow abortion for specific circumstance- which is widely known to be manipulated for the benefit of loose legged and by extension society.

    Is is primarily the Protestants specifcally the mindless Evangelists funded by and swooning about America who object.
    Commonly Evangelists are the minority foreign ethnic and outlying islander races of Indonesian- thus also have a vested interest in boosting their small population numbers.

    Your ignorance of your own nations’ society and laws is very telling of this current very lacklustre generation of ignorant moronic MTV automatons- especially as a young woman.

    Young people have not earned the right to inherit this nation- instead they are majority stupid, foolish, immature and very lazy with no respect for elder or tradition.

    Why your generation expect all to be fed to them by baby-spoon and their nanny?

    Indonesian Hukum Keshetan 1992 (Health Law) specifically allows and regulates abortion in Indonesia:

    Pregnancy services are offered by traditional practitioners (illegal provider), midwives and nurse-midwives (illegal provider), general practitioners and physician specialist (usually illegal providers), and obstetricians and gynecologists.

    Traditional methods of abortion include “pijat” or kneading and punching of the abdomen by traditional birth attendants or healers, “jamu” or herbal remedies which are ingested, and “jamu sticks” which are inserted into the female genitalia.
    Physicians use dilation and curettage, menstrual regulation, vacuum curettage (the mostly widely used method), saline injections, and prostaglandin suppositories.
    Ru486 is under license for production by Kalbe Farma but not available for full distribution at this stage.

    In 1989 there were an estimated 750,000 to 1 million abortions performed per year or a ratio of 16.7-22.2 abortions/100 live births.

    Sarwono SW and Widyantoro N in STUDIES IN FAMILY PLANNING, 1993 Jul-Aug;24(4):241-51.

    Fullmoon- your generation need some famines and war to slim you down and toughen you all up.
    How I would love to see the lazy teenager of today march for 20 kilo on one rice bowl per day and jungle food, with ancient rifle and bamboo sandal.

  8. fullmoonflower says:

    well, PN..

    I am not a teenager… going to 40’s 😛
    I am a mother, and have 1 daughter

    I know how hard to be a mother, because I am a single mother, and also work as a Tax Manager in 1 multi-national company and 2 national companies, and also a Tax & Customs Consultant for my own company, and do some trading businesses and restaurants join with my friends..

    I don’t want it will be happened to my daughter for sure…

    Hope it won’t be happened in my family 🙂

  9. timdog says:

    A more basic sort of question might be “What the hell is wrong with Indonesians when it comes to birth control?”
    At probably nearly 50% of the weddings I’ve been to in Indonesia (and that’s not hyperbole) the date has been rather rushed and there’s been a noticable bulge beneath the bridal gown… Haven’t these people heard of condoms?

    One aquaintence fell pregnant aged 18 and was hurried into marriage shotgun-stylee with the little scrote in question (middle class Javanese Catholics, so in this particular case Pak Patung, absolutely nothing to do with it 😉 ). After a couple of thoroughly miserable years of bickering, bullying, and in the end physical violence from him, it was decided that it would be better to send the little scrote back where he came from; there was a superfast divorce and some other unpleasantness best left unmentioned. Mother and baby are now doing fine.
    In another case, a good friend (Chinese Catholic this time Koh Patung 😉 ) went through very much the same situation, a family-perscribed shotgun wedding, an absolutely horrible 2-year marriage, a rather acrimonious divorce, and is now much happier as a single mum…

    Now, my take on both these cases would be “pake kondom, goblok!” But do you think that the unpleasant trauma of those shotgun marriages was of any value at all with regards “father figures”, stability and all that – especially given that a child brought up in a Javanese family is generally going to have no shortage of love, affection and role models, even if daddy ain’t there

    In another case, of a very good friend (Javanese Catholics again), another unplanned, extramarital baby, but this time, after much family heart-searching, no marriage. Instead, despite a rather rocky start, there’s a thoroughly modern, very Guardian 😉 sort of arrangement. Dad’s out of town, but comes home and sees baby every couple of months, and has a decent sort of relationship (though not a “relationship”) with the mother. The defacto in-laws have the baby for a few days every so often, and are always involved with any doctor stuff and so on, and will continue to be involved with the child’s upbringing – all of which seems thoroughly civilised to me, and bodes quite well for the future.
    I’m inclined to suspect, given Javanese attitudes towards family and so on, that were single parenthood to become less of a social stigma, then it wouldn’t neccesarily pressage the sort of Daily Mail social apocalypse some associate with the matter in the UK… (Curious how much Daily Mail types and conservative Muslims have in common – if only we could bring them together, there’d be so much love 😉 )

    Of course, if these silly kids would just learnt to use protection, then it wouldn’t be an issue at all…

  10. Patrick says:

    Hai Drill Sergeant PN yes it must be all true what you say that fullmoonpower is weak and society is weak and I am weak because compared to you we are nothing but whining ingrates with no sense of dignity and worth. You are such a big macho masculine man born of a superior gene pool into a superior caste system that you must drive the Blok M she-boys gila with excitement whenever you go there to insure that you never produce any bastard children of your own! Oh if only God in his infinite wisdom had made more of you think how right this world would be!

  11. David says:

    Mas Timdog, my carefully crafted attempt to smoke you out worked!

    I’m inclined to suspect, given Javanese attitudes towards family and so on, that were single parenthood to become less of a social stigma, then it wouldn’t neccesarily pressage the sort of Daily Mail social apocalypse some associate with the matter in the UK…

    Yes extended family structures here still going (sometimes annoyingly) strong (Clare’s story is an example) so fatherless kids will have it better than in Britain…although I’d say those family structures will (keep?) weakening over time, which goes back to my point to Clare, traditional societies will not survive as they were/are, they will change and in a way die, or morph, or get swallowed up, or whatever. Still think there’s an ideal situation re families, although it won’t actually be ideal in all cases it’s er, still the ideal.

    Haven’t these people heard of condoms?

    There’s a post about that coming up…apparently a lot of them haven’t, or aren’t sure on the procedure or something.

  12. timdog says:

    Well, I kind of sensed you might be thinking of me, so I felt I should respond… Thoroughly smoked out!
    I’m still considering retirement though, what with all my old sparring partners gone and the Good Ship Sudarsono apparently holed beneath the waterline…

    On the upcoming contraception post, do have a quick google of one “Dr Love” and his “Love Airways”; he is absolutely hysterical. You could even have a go on his SMS advice service if it’s actually operational…

  13. Patung:

    There is no haram on the birth certificate for our grandchild, just a blank where the father’s name should be. The new arrangement apparently is that if the woman later marries someone other than the natural father the birth certificate can be amended so that the new husband becomes the child’s father. All of which seems to me an enlightened approach to the problem that does not openly condone illegitimacy but accepts it as a fact of life.

    Yes I am well aware about the statistics concerning children from broken homes and those born into single parent situations. I drove a taxi for six years in the south east of England before retiring in 2007. I saw a lot of the results of social instability.

    My wife and I are also acutely aware that we have in some respect, somewhere, failed as parents. We are confused as to exactly where we failed. But we are not alone in this.

    Amongst the things I saw in Britain while working as a taxi driver was the utter confusion of parents whose children, brought up in a stable home and family situation, ended up on drugs; some prostituing themselves in order to pay for the addiction.

    Amongst the the questions I am interested in are: Are these problems simply a matter of parental failure or is it all a part of the permissiveness that seems to underpin the societies of western democracies; and if this is the case how does a country like Indonesia achieve growth and equity in its own society without developing a chronic form of the same problem?

  14. fullmoonflower

    I am full of admiration for you. It is not easy to bring up children in the ideal situation of having the support of the father as your husband, but to do so while earning a living is hard anywhere in the world. Place this in the context of a society that finds such a situation threatening and unsuitable and you need considerable courage to undertake the responsibility of a single mother’s role.

    British society when I was young had many of the same mores as exist here now, before the sixties caused a revolution in social behaviour, started in part by the sudden availability of the contraceptive pill. How things have developed in Britain from there is something deserving of critical study by societies like that in Indonesia, which I imagine could develop along similar lines.

    Thank you for your comments.

  15. Rob says:


    You would be a much more sensible read if you were able to take on board some of Patung’s suggestions. The personalizing of everything gets a little lame after a while and just a lot boring. The mildly amusing factor wears off about the same time as I see your gravatar.

    In personalizing the discussion you always presume too much about the people you are writing about. In this case you make assumptions on female role models of which you know nothing about. Perhaps your problem is the lack of proper male and female role models in your formative years who taught you manners and the art of argument and tact.

    Perhaps your daddy was never around and your mummy was too busy making ends meet before she shuffled you off to military school. From where you graduated and then went to Timor Leste, Aceh, Maluku, and other places to work out your “angst” by shooting and pillaging. And, finally ending up at IM still angst-ridden and still shooting and pillaging, at least verbally. I think in other places they would be calling you a troll, wouldn’t they?

    Clare’s story is an interesting one and the issues are worth exploring. Timdog raises some of these. One might be, rather than people burying their collective heads in the sand and hoping that parents manage to do the job on sex education, perhaps they might want to see this as something that needs to be taught in schools and not just a throwaway provision in a law that permits sex ed.

    The issue of abortion is a topic that gets no where near enough air time considering the numbers of abortions allegedly being performed in Indonesia by back yard specialists. Nah, PN it is the bottom feeders like you with your limp-wristed drivel that stigmatize single mothers as loose-legged whores that drive abortion rates up.

    You, sir, need to get out of that darkened room and away from your computer for a while and see how the rest of us are living in the real world.

  16. Farah says:

    I like this writing 🙂

    Whether we like it or not, theres some girls out there facing this problem. And some of they so desperate because they don’t know what to do. And they only think that the future for them would be so dark and scary. Its not suppose to be like that.. right ?

    Poor girls….

  17. Farah

    Not very far from where my wife and I live there is a beautiful new museum. This building is as futuristic and stytlish as any I have seen anywhere else in the world. The museum is for the study of Merapi and all things connected with the volcano. The centrepiece on entry in the atrium is a great model of Gunung Merapi around which you can walk. The museum is to open properly sometime next year.

    I mention this place because it was near this futuristic symbol of modernity the other night that a young woman threw away her newborn baby. The baby was found dead in the morning. Apparently the woman concerned is known but I have no idea what has become of her and whether she has been brougtht to account for infanticide.

    Bearing in mind the attitudes of some who comment on sites such as this and the level of fear their opinions and superstitions can engender in the vulnerable it is hardly surprising that tragedies such as the one I have just described are as common as they are.

    On the subject of abortion that Rob mentions the fear and shame of some girls is bound also to lead to them seeking the assistance of back-street abortionists and unqualified people, which is another way that their original, and very human, mistake can be turned into tragedy.

  18. daniel k says:

    Purba Negoro, shouldn’t you be out attacking some poor blind infidel with your mob?

    Clare, wonderful article. My heart goes out to single mom’s. I look forward to reading more from you.


  19. Berlian Biru says:

    An interesting tale Clare, I’m inclined to agree with Patung and indeed yourself, that whilst intolerant bigotry towards single mothers is appalling, nonetheless the quiet hypocrisy of trying to cover it up is not entirely wrong.

    The old preachers used to say to love the sinner but hate the sin (I’m not saying your daughter is a sinner by the way) so it is with single motherhood, isn’t it better that the mother and child in question receive love and help while at the same time society still makes it clear that it would be better for all concerned if children were brought up in homes with their natural parents? And far and away better to discourage young girls from having children out of wedlock rather than rewarding them with better housing and welfare payments if they do so.

    There’s a lot wrong with Indonesian society but when it comes to raising children they do it a hell of a lot better than in the urban wastelands of the UK where feral children of a government funded underclass produce more of the same in a soulless, amoral joyless vacuum.

    Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

    As to your wondering where you and your wife went “wrong” as parents? Precisely nowhere. You provided your daughter with a good home, love, morality and attention indeed in the autumn of your lives you still do and her faults as an adult are no more a reflection on you than the many godawful mistakes I made in my life, and will no doubt continue to make, reflect badly on my own dear blameless parents.

  20. fullmoonflower says:

    @ Farah

    I like this writing

    Whether we like it or not, theres some girls out there facing this problem. And some of they so desperate because they don’t know what to do. And they only think that the future for them would be so dark and scary. Its not suppose to be like that.. right ?

    Poor girls….

    realized that she is pregnant without a husband, and so many negative comments around there… some girls would chose abortion, even suicide.. 🙁

    Maybe I can share something…

    When you get this bad situation.. you may cry, but please don’t be too long, 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days… those will be enough…
    after that, you just wake up and see : you are young, good looking, you are still alive, you are not stupid, you are educated, so.. you deserve to get the best future…

    Your own future is in your own hand…
    You will be a good one, or a bad one… it’s your choice…

    Nobody is perfect. Everyone ever did a mistake, but they still have a chance to make it better in the future… Only a dumb would did the same mistake twice…

    This is what I ever did before :

    Oneday I heard people around talking something bad about me & my parent as my parent is a public figure (tokoh masyarakat)…
    I stopped by, smile to them, and came to them…
    I talked in low tone, and friendly…
    I said : “Excuse me mam, I heard you were talking about something, and I heard you mentioned my name & my father’s name. I know, maybe it’s my fault, and everyone ever did a mistake. I’m just an ordinary human, not an angel. Well, beside them, may i ask you some questions?”

    1. Did I ever owe you something? –> answer : No
    2. Did I and my parents ever do something wrong to you and your family? –> answer : No
    3. Did you feed me when I am hungry? –> answer : No
    4. Did you pay my study? –> answer : No
    5. Can you guarantee that it won’t be happened to your daughters, your grand-daughters, your great-grand-daughters, your nieces, or your sisters? –> answer : No

    “So, why should I hear your negative comments? You are nothing in my own life. My future is in my own hand, not in your hand. Maybe I am a bad one now, but someday I believe I will be a good one”.
    “Mam, I hope it will be a good lesson for you to look after your daughters better. Because it can be happened to anyone. So, better you go home and take care of all women in your home, so that nothing bad will be happened to them, or your words will be sent back to you. Thank you :)”

    Don’t know what happened after that… but I believe, God never sleep.

    5 months later, the daughter was married, and 3 months after the wedding, she got her first grand-son…

    I don’t know if it is a “karma” or what… but this is a good lesson for me to not think bad to another else even I know what’s going on.

    Always thinking positively… 🙂

  21. mirax says:

    Clare, I have very mixed feelings about this post. If I may venture a cautious opinion, I am struck by the fact that you and your wife effectively seem to have forced your daughter into having this child against her express wishes to have an abortion. I wonder if this may be a factor why your 36 year daughter has displayed less maturity than you yourself expected? She clearly regards the child as a shameful burden best kept secret and seems to have (from your post) abandoned all responsibility as a mother, even to the extent of acknowledging her own child. Her primary concern seems to be preserving her ‘reputation’ amongst her peers. Don’t you feel that this is a potentially heartbreaking situation for your grandchild? No matter how wonderful your care and love for your beloved grandchild, is that substitute enough for parental neglect and abandonment? I feel that rather than worry about societal attitudes to illegitimacy, you’d be better off trying to persuade your daughter to accept her responsibilities towards her own flesh and blood. Lots of bad decisions all round but the poor innocent child is here and deserves to be the primary concern. Your daughter should start acting her age and soon- that child will be asking questions before you know it!

    There is always the option of leaving the country – I assume your daughter may have british citizenship- if the the mobs do imaterialise, which I strongly doubt anyway. I belong to a community that has similarly strong strictures against unwed mothers but I do come from the sort of family – single mother widowed at age 36 with 6 young kids (and no money or education or family support to fall back on) – which acted as a refuge for at least two young unwed women who had been turfed out by their own families . I believe such people exist in Yogya too.

  22. Purba Negoro says:

    All I read is apologists for the slack leg women of the world.

    Yes all apologism- excuses and no reasons.

    For those who claim the father was poor quality, immature or runs away- the real question STILL remain- then why on earth you open your legs to him in the first place?

    Are you stupid or just delusional to think you can trap this fly with your pitcher-plant?

    Also- you have two other place to play hide the banana- why you not use those. Why the loaded one?

    Then- the other question still remains unanswered- why should society pay for your stupidity and poor choices?

    The answer is it should not- the mother should. Maybe if she keep her knees together like a LADY- this situation never occur.

    How long does it take for a woman to insert a female condom?

    The Progesterone pill is subsidised by the government for the poor.
    Depo Provera injection is widely available.
    Copper Inter Uterine dveice is manufactured locally and very cheap- with high rate of success.

    The answer is- these women CHOOSE NOT to control their own sexual urges, their own fertility then to add insult EXPECT sympathy from society for their idiocy.

    What a brazen cheek.

    Backyard abortionist is a lovely emotive slander. What is the next line? coat hangers and ice picks?

    The fact is these traditional birth attendant have been practicing this craft since before Sonadus and Hipocrates time and their Gynocaelogi.
    My brother is a prominent Ob Gyn- so I am well aware of all the nonsense and excuse these women pull- so may stories, “he said he loved me”, “I just wanted his baby”, – nothing more than self-indulgent excuses.

    And no- I have contempt for such by choice single mothers (not widow- that is very different and tragic story)- they are a blight on society and should stew in their own juices.

    And yes I have a teenage daughter- she attend all sex ed class unlike idiot weak Muslim and Christian who complain it cause sins (usualy the guiltiest parties).
    She also knows if she get pregnant before marriage and especially if no husband- she is totally abandoned like the cheap throo-away she has proven by her idiot actions to be.

    Proof- good parenting and good role model produce decent young people.

    Rob- I enjoyed your cereal box psycho analysis. I enjoy you jokes.
    What is there to pillage in these poor outlying province?- See the weak part of your joke- otherwise funny.

    Tell me about my lack of infant breastfeeding and influence on my thought today.

  23. daniel k says:


    Proof- good parenting and good role model produce decent young people.

    Wrong. Humans make mistakes regardless of the quality of their upbringing. We are all susceptible to mistakes.


  24. Andy says:

    If someone makes a mistake rightly or wrongly that person will answer one way or the other. In the case of Indonesia where they have chosen to not legalise sex outside of marriage or single parentage that is one thing. But the child doesn’t choose who they are born to. Amrozi for example could have fathered a child as he was allowed to marry while on death row on terrorism charges. Would that child be tormented through school for being the son / daughter of a terrorist. I doubt it if living in a pious muslim area.

    Now does that mean the child born to a single mom should suffer abuse throughout their childhood from their peers and nosey neighbours? Of course not in any humane society. Say what you like about the mother but leave the child alone. Growing up is hard enough at the best of times.

  25. daniel k says:

    Well said Andy.

  26. Farah says:

    Yeah i know what your talking about “karma” things.
    I hope it will never happened to me tho. Being pregnant and doesn’t have anyone to share the burden, especially in indonesia society. Its like a death sentence for some peoples.
    I know theres some girls that end their life suicide or dead because bleeding in some “dukun beranak”. Not much knowledge, not much time, not much help.

    I will feel very sorry if this happened to any of my friends, and i don’t know about it or feel like i don’t want to know (being ignorant).
    Too bad in indonesia theres no system that could help this single mom, like the one that i ever heard in USA. They help them with psychological help to prepare them to be a mother with certain skills that they need when the baby born, also offer them job too, so they could afford to stand by their own.

    I know sex before married is a taboo things to brought up in public (but not taboo to do for some people ehh ?), but this things happened, especially in big cities. Lack of knowledge about what these young single mother should do, beside abortion or killing them self.

    …what a pity…

    @ PN
    Asking girls to close their legs is quite hard when theres so much temptation to open it. I think theres so much things beside parent control needs in someone life here. Religion , friends, neighborhood, and much more take part on this.

    People made mistake and yes i agree they have to be responsible on their mistakes. I just think its not the spank at the butt (slap on the face??) that will help them if thats happened. The guilty feelings toward parents and people they love already marks on them more.

    Not good to add more pain tho.

    But sure, who am i to tell how to raise a daughter 😀 its just a thought.

  27. fullmoonflower says:

    Well, maybe it’s a wise lesson :

    “Since you are all still alive : just do look after your daughters as well…”

    After we die, nobody can guarantee that it won’t be happened to our descendants…

    Someone can be proud and talk loud as he is over-confidence, thinking that it MUST BE
    NEVER HAPPENNED to his family…
    Just wait and see… What would he says when it’s finally happened in his family? 😛
    Would he talking like now?

    Pregnancy can be also happened because of RAPING…
    and nobody can guess, when will it be happened to our kids 🙁

    I always tried to place myself in some friends situation, when they get pregnant without a husband… and all I can do is give them motivation.
    I show them that I can look after my daughter alone without a husband, and keep success.
    A divorced woman or a single mother will always be under-estimated by people around in Indonesian. So, me and them are all same.

    I have a cousin, she was pregnant before married. But her parent gave her motivation.
    She and her BF married after her baby was born. As islam didn’t allow to marry a pregnant woman.
    Now she has been a Dentist in Yogya. And they have a happy family with 3 boys, and she has already had 2 grand children.

    Oh no… just realized that I’ve made a mistake above 😀
    I’m sorry… maybe you got wrong perception…

    Well, about my story is :
    I never do sex before married… but when I get married, people around told bad (fitnah) of me and my family, because I worked in Jakarta and back home just for married… they said : maybe I’ve been pregnant.

    I let them think bad of me… I didn’t care…
    Only that one day, as I told you above, I thought that I should give them clarification..
    I thought it was useless to tell them that I am not pregnant, so I let them thought about that… Time will tell….waktu yang akan berbicara..

    2 years later, they keep telling bad story : I haven’t get pregnant yet because when I was in Jakarta, maybe I ever did abortion for several times (astaghfirullah).

    8 years later, when I got my divorce, and bring a baby girl with me… everyone keep telling bad of me and my family…
    They said that maybe my daughter is not my ex-husband’s daughter so he divorced me… Whereas they didn’t know that I got my divorce because my ex-husband cheated on me, and his new mistress (they were illegaly married) sent me terrors so we have to get divorced because of some reasons.

    It’s (maybe) my fault to never tell anyone about what happened, but is it important? It’s my own family secret, no need to tell anyone… who are they? 😆

    You see… people with narrow mind…
    Whether we did a right thing or not… they will keep telling bad rumour of us…

    Are you the one of them? xixixixi 😆

    Well, everyone know that here in Indonesia, being a Janda Muda or Ibu Tunggal, are same…

    Please give simpathy to all single mothers around us… They need help, not curses and obscenities…
    Everyone ever did a mistake, but as they are still alive, they still have chance to make a better thing.
    Why don’t we give them the second chance, whereas God gave them?

  28. Mirax.

    I agree that there will undoubtedly be difficult times ahead. It has proven impossible so far to persuade our daughter as to her maternal responsibilities and the pleasure she would get from undertaking them; even if she did this on a part time basis giving love and support to her child here with us at weekends or some such arrangement while continuing with her life independently at other times. So far she cannot be reconciled to such an idea, which is unfortunate but because she is our daughter and ultimately our responsibility we cannot abandon her and throw her out of our family as we love her too much to do that.

    As to abortion. I take that point too, but we did not refuse to allow our daughter to have an abortion. We discussed the option and made the case that it was morally wrong having got to the stage of being pregnant, at her age and under the circumstances of the pregnancy which were quite frankly sheer carelessness and made under no duress or through any need at all other than very ill-advised passion. We spoke of the future and how it seemed likely to us that the abortion would remain an issue for the rest of her life. An issue of regret and a feeling of guilt. My wife and I said we did not believe that abortion should be used as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ card for the well off who can afford skilled professional help in these circumstances. We felt it was cowardly and morally wrong for people like our family, under no financial pressure and able to face down any criticism, to be driven to such action by the wildly conservative attitudes of a small part of a society, already changing, that may well have come to terms with the inevitability of public single parenthood well before the child is grown and at senior school.

    Leading on from this we also did not see why we should be forced into the position of shuffling our child and grandchild off to a country far away for which our daughter has never had any affection, simply to satisfy the social sensibilities of an increasingly reducing section of society here. In any case my wife and our two children have never taken British citizenship. My wife has the right of residency but retained her Indonesian passport.

    Much of the conservative thinking on this subject is confused and illogical to the point of absurd inconsistency. Most who take the extreme conservative stance blame parenting for the problem. If this is so how can they then, once the mistake has been made, suddenly deny their own responsibilities and take their revenge for what they see as shameful behaviour out on those, their daughter and their grandchild, when by their own standards the fault is theirs? This is cowardly and amounts to the grossest form of bullying imaginable. As you point out it may well be that in the future we will have a difficult time and our relationship with our daughter is heavily under strain, but we are the strong and the experienced ones in the situation and if we run from what is clearly our responsibility we would have no right to be respected in the future.

    My granddaughter is sitting on my knee as I type this and I shudder to think what we might have done for the sake of form and someone else’s narrow view of our reputation.

  29. mirax says:

    Dear Clare, thank you for your reply – which is really more than virtual strangers on the interweb deserve. I sincerely apologise if I come across as sanctimonious or judgemental of your decisions .

    Of course, there are no easy choices at all despite what fools like the PNs of this world would like to believe. I never meant to suggest even for one second that you disown your daughter! As highminded and thoughtful your decision against abortion was, I still have this niggling feeling that it was not your decision to make. The repercussions of an abortion, from the perspective of your daughter who clearly has failed to bond with or even to come to terms with the very existence of her child, might not have been as harmful or tragic or permanent as the confusion, shame and anger your daughter seems to feel as an unwed mother. She seems to have internalised some very conservative notions, sorry to say. While you and your wife clearly have the strength to weather whatever problems for the love of the child, she doesnt because she simply doesnt even love the child. That is where the greatest potential threat to your grandchild is going to lie – the hurt inflicted by strangers is going to be nothing compared to the indifference of her own mother. I may not be articulating this well and don’t mean to add to your pain by saying this is going to inevitably damage your grandchild just that the most urgent thing you can do and you can’t stop trying to do is somehow, anyhow, bond mother and child. That’s all.
    I shall shut up now. I don’t even know what I am doing posting on IM, which has the knd of reactionary, racist and misogynist posters (see above for frothing examples) I’d walk across burning coals to avoid in real life! All the best to your family, especially your grandkid.

  30. Clare Phyllis says:


    I agree that all possible efforts should and will be made to get our daughter to love her child. I cannot believe though that if we fail in this it would be better if the child had not been born but had been clinically removed as some kind of an emotional risk too far for the baby and her mum.

    Many of us have lived lives that contain emotional damage and if our daughter had been detrmined to have an abortion she has more than enough money of her own and has been brought up with absolute freedom of choice in all things and would have gone ahead on her own initiative if she had been utterly convinced she should. She knows from past experience that we would not have disowned her or held her responsible for such a decision. We did though stamp hard on those within the family who were tending to encourage our daughter to have an abortion; I will admit to that. There was a certain amount of panic about at the time and we did our best to give our daughter the space and time to make her own decisions. Having said that whether or not to santion an abortion, or provide the emotional cover to allow someone to have one, is a serious thing to do as it undeniably involves the destruction of life.

    I have posted today for the first time on IM and have been amused at what you describe rather accurately as the ‘frothing examples’. There are either some suitable cases for treatment out there or they are attempting to wind up the argument by being absurdly extreme. I particularly like the the army guy. I imagine him as having risen to the rank of corporal in the Katering Korps fearlessly in charge of the supply of industrial quantities of bakso.

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