Published: Jul 30, 2007

Peter King

A short listing of Chusnul Mar'iyah's NGO involvements would include the Indonesian Women's Coalition for Justice and Democracy (Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia untuk Keadilan dan Demokrasi); the National Commission on Violence Against Women (which took up the cause of the Chinese women raped during the 'constructed chaos' before Suharto fell); the Selendang Lila Foundation (for women); Movement to Promote Women's Political Awareness (Gerakan Perempuan Sadar Politik), funded by the UN Development Program; the Indonesian Institute for Democratic Education (funding from USAID and the Friedrich Neumann Stiftung); and Women's Coalition for Peace and Justice(Perempuan Peka untuk Perdamaian dan Keadilan). The latter was a force in organising the path-breaking Women's Congress held in Banda Aceh from 19-22 February this year. Here several Acehnese women (and even some Javanese, including Chusnul) emerged as players in the peace process for the first time.

In addition to her not insubstantial teaching commitments and almost daily NGO activity, Chusnul maintains a punishing media regime. ('We need a marathon mentality,' she says.) Apart from regular TV appearances on such booming background and talk shows as Nol Kilometer (RCTI) and Bincang-Bincang (Interview, on ANTV) and Cuma Dua Jam (Only Two Hours, on TVRI), she makes endless radio appearances, especially with Jakarta's Trijaya FM, for whom she filled a slot daily for seven weeks in the run up to the June elections last year. The daily (or more frequent) radio stint is often performed on the mobile phone in the taxi to the new and rather distant (Suharto's idea) Depok campus of the University of Indonesia.

This media pace has led her to become one of the more quoted Indonesian experts in western media, including Time, Far Eastern Economic Review, Sydney Morning Herald, Radio Australiaand the ABC. She is also much profiled domestically, including by Kompas, Prada and several other women's magazines, and the Women and Work program on TVIndosia.

Peter King (peterk36@cpi.kagoshima-uac.jp) is visiting professor at the University of Kagoshima Research Center for the Pacific Islands, in Japan.