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Badriah A Thaleb

INDONESIAN WOMEN, 6 DECEMBER 2015

For many people, the tsunami that hit Aceh on December 26, 2004 was a disaster that caused  a very deep wound. However, for Badriah, a housewife in Aceh who often received violent treatment from  her husband, the tsunami was a blessing. Badriah derived from Muara Batu, North Aceh. She  is a widow of three children who had often experienced domestic violence from her husband. After the tsunami, Badriah got a lot of knowledge because she had the opportunity to join  a women's empowerment group which was set to help tsunami victims especially the women in Aceh . Her mind began to open. In her village, Badriah now is  known as a motivator for encouraging  a lot of women,   victims of domestic violence and other acts of violence.

A few months after the disaster that devastated Aceh, Women Volunteers for Humanity came  to her village in Meunasah Lhok, North Aceh. Acehnese women's NGO then  formed Beudoh Beusare (To Build or To  awake Together) whose members are 14 widows. Although Badriah was not a widow, she was  allowed to become a member "because I am a  female main breadwinner in the family. After joining the NGO,  she followed various meetings and discussions. Since then her life changed dramatically. She seemed to get enlightenment that  women actually  have equal rights in the family. Initially she  did not dare to  protest her husband who often resorted  to violence. In her understanding, a wife should obey her husband . If not  she  would go to hell.

Badriah Thaleb indeed married young,  before the age of 17. It turned out  her dream  to  build a family of her own  was  disastrous for her even though her husband was of her own choice. When Badriah became pregnant, he never came home. He had just returned a few months after she  gave  birth. The same happened again  when she was pregnant with her second and third child. In addition to taking care of her three children, she was told to work in  the rice fields and the results had to be submitted to her husband. Her husband also  forbade her from joining  activities with others, including when there were weddings in the village or other events. Yet, because it was considered ungodly for a wife to disobey her husband, she just  did as she was told. In the village where she lives, there are still some other women who suffer a similar fate. They just let go and consider domestic violence as something normal  that has become destiny of life. It was with the assistance of LBH Apik,  a Probono lawyers organization  specializing  in helping women  victims of domestic  violence, she  finally sued her husband for divorce.

After joining  many  discussions  on women empowerment  for 3 years, Badriah, a female junior high school graduate volunteered to be one of  companions  in  cases of domestic violence,  sexual abuse of children and rape that occurred in North Aceh. Since 2012, at least more than 50 cases that they took care of. Almost all  of the cases were  settled in court or by custom law. She always accompanied the victims, right from reporting to the police until the cases were  brought to court. Badriah admitted she only gets Rp100,000 ($...)  transport money   when accompanying a  case. Meanwhile, the cost of living  with her  three sons was  obtained from her rice fields and a small  kiosk in front of her  house. However, she was willing to help so that other women do not experience such violence like she did.

According to  Badriah A Thaleb, as a  women activist, when she  was working  to defend other  women, she  often faced  threats. Her simple house  often became   a safe place for women in her neighborhood who received  domestic violence. Initially, Badriah was shunned by many people in her village  because  she was considered to be teaching   other  women to dare to resist.

Badriah also actively encourages  other women victims to demand for justice. The women in the village then formed a group that aims to provide encouragement to other women. Today, already there are  already  50 people who have become members of the group chaired by Badriah. Thanks to her  perseverance, Badriah now has a brick production business that continues to grow. She is now even recruited many village women to work at the brick factory. Not only doing  business, Badriah is also involved in a number of women's organizations in Aceh. She  motivates  the members of the group to keep their  spirit in life.

Badriah Thaleb won Acehnese Women Award 2015,  initiated by  the government and women's activists on 25 November 2015. This award aims to give recognition to women who have dedicated themselves to the enforcement of women's rights in Aceh. Badriah was one of  29 women nominated by various organizations for the award. A jury consisting of scholars, academics, women activists and journalists organizations then chose Badriah as the award winner.

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