To censor is to say certain voices are not okay. When you don’t see people like yourself represented, you may feel isolated. That’s why intolerant groups must not be allowed to define what it means to be Indonesian. We owe it to ourselves to take care of our diversity—to realize a country where everyone can be true to themselves.
At MWF Eliza spoke at the panels Muslim Feminism, Protest & Rebellion, and Writers Across Borders. She was also one of the surprise guests at Dumbo Feather’s Caravan Conversation.
In a country as diverse as Indonesia—with hundreds of ethnicities, many faiths, and with an authoritarian history, it can be difficult to talk about controversial issues. Since the fall of the New Order, Indonesia has taken steps to guarantee freedom of expression. Unfortunately, laws that contradict those steps have also been passed.
My Javanese father gave me the Javanese name ‘Handayani’—he dislikes going out and likes to eat only Indonesian food; he believes it is his right and obligation to be the head of the family. My Madurese mother gave me the Western name ‘Eliza’—she likes traveling and trying cuisines from around the world; she believes in the values her parents taught her: obedience to husband, submission to God. Fate decided my middle name: I was born on Idul Fitri, but, horrified at the thought of her first-born named like every other baby girl born that day, my mother swapped the F in ‘Fitri’ for a V. ‘Vitri’: fate tweaked by free will.