The number of domestic violence cases against women increases every year and is a constant occurrence in almost all of Indonesia’s provinces. Instead of being a ‘home sweet home’, the homes of domestically abused women become their realized nightmare. Domestic violence occurs not only in patrilineal societies, but also in societies that adopt a matrilineal system. This becomes a contradiction as it is expected that a matrilineal system would enable women to occupy a higher social and economic status than men, thus affording them more leverage in the domestic realm. In fact, data shows that domestic violence in West Sumatra, inhabited by the matrilineal Minangkabau society, is prevalent. Considering the dominance of customs (adat) in Minangkabau, this paper studies the resolution of domestic violence by focusing on the plurality of legal orders in West Sumatra, especially the Tanah Datar district. With prior knowledge on the co-existence of adat and State law, this research questions the roles that each system plays in providing protection and access to justice for women victims of domestic abuse, especially since the enactment of the national Law on the Eradication of Domestic Violence in 2004. The Minangkabau society is famous for having traditional institutions that are given the authority to deal with domestic problems and this autonomy has a big chance of jeopardizing women victims’ safety by inhibiting access to the legal assistance they need. Through a socio-legal studies research, this paper presents the findings of field research in Tanah Datar district involving adat, religion and State actors. This paper concludes that a major institutional reform is the necessary measure to take in order to provide women victims the safety, autonomy and justice they deserve.

Author Biography

Ratih Lestarini is a lector at the Department of Law, Society and Development, Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia. She received her bachelor, master’s and doctoral degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia. She is a lecturer for the subjects of Sociology of Law, Socio-Legal Methodology, Law and Society, Indonesian People and Society among other subjects both for undergraduate and graduate students at the Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia. Her research and publications includes matter of access to justice regarding violence against women and children within the framework of Indonesia’s national and customary laws across different cities including Malang, Padang, Kupang, Atambua, Waingapu, Rote, and Bajawa, the legal protection for women environmental activists in urban areas, as well as the settlement of land disputes to name a few.

Dianwidhi Michelle Pranoto is a research assistant at the Department of Law, Society and Development, Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia. Her most recent publication was on the ability of co-existing laws to provide a choice of resolution for victims of domestic violence in Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara. She has done several researches concerning the Indonesian indigenous community, especially regarding constitutional law from the perspective of indigenous law and women’s access to natural resources in Indonesia. She has also written several papers on agrarian conflicts involving indigenous groups, access to justice for indigenous peoples and the implications of the Village Act to indigenous communities and governance.

Tirtawening finished her Graduate Program in Faculty of Law University of Indonesia and Post-graduate Program in Department of Anthropology Faculty of Social and Political Science University of Indonesia. She has been a lecturer in Department of Law, Society and Development Faculty of Law University of Indonesia since 2007 for the subject of Anthropology of Law, Women and Law, Law and Society, Socio-legal Methodology and Indonesian People and Society. She is affiliated to the Center for Women and Gender Studies University of Indonesia and The Center for Law and Society Faculty of Law University of Indonesia in doing her researches.