Divorce Narratives and Class Inequalities in Indonesia. By: Rinaldo, Rachel; Nisa, Eva F. and Nurmila, Nina. 2024. Journal of Family Issues. Vol. 45 Issue 5, p1195-1216.

In the past 20 years, divorce has increased in Indonesia. Indonesian statistics show that divorces initiated by women exceed those by men. One issue that is often neglected is how socioeconomic differences also play a role in this matter. Drawing on our collaborative research on Muslim divorces in Indonesia, this paper focuses on the interplay between divorce strategies and socioeconomic differences among Muslim couples. Our in-depth interviews with 93 Muslim men and women and 19 judges from Islamic courts show that class differences shape distinctive dynamics of divorce among Muslim Indonesians. Couples from less educated, lower-income backgrounds accept marriage dissolution more easily, with women becoming much less tolerant of men’s behaviors such as infliction of domestic violence, infidelity, and failure to provide financial support. Educated, middle-class urban couples divorce for similar reasons but tend to experience a lengthier process accompanied by complex layers of conflict. Many educated women’s narratives
emphasize their ability to support themselves through working, and a desire to be free of a bad marriage at any cost. Class and education thus contribute to significant differences in the experience and trajectories of divorce in Indonesia.