4 Min Read
JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Indonesian Gina Puspita traded a career in aircraft engineering for a mission to preach Islam and help young women build happy marriages through good sex.
The French-educated mother of three hosts religious programs through the Obedient Wives Club which is based on the belief that a fulfilling sex life is the cure for "Western-style" social problems such as divorce and abuse.
"Wives must obey the husbands in all aspect of life, such as serving food and drinks, giving calm and support for the husband, as well as in sex relations," Pusipita, who shares her spouse with three other women, told Reuters.
A Muslim group which espouses good sex as a foundation for healthy marriages and a strong society, the Obedient Wives Club is gaining converts in the world's most populous Muslim country after setting up in Jordan, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
Founded by Global Ikhwan, a Malaysian firm involved in businesses ranging from laundromats to pharmacies, the club was initially intended to help the company's female staff to be good wives as well as productive employees.
Global Ikhwan's officials have been linked to the now-defunct Malaysia-based Al-Arqam religious sect which was banned by the government in 1994. Before the Obedient Wives Club, Global Ikhwan had earlier established the Polygamy Club which encourages polygamy among Muslims.
The Obedient Wives Club is open to women of all faiths but says its teachings are based on the edicts of Islam which require wives to submit to their husbands and meet their needs.
"When men cannot get satisfaction at home, they will seek it elsewhere," said Nurul, an Obedient Wives Club spokesperson.
"When your wife is cool toward you because your wife is busy and has no time to attend to you whereas you need it that day, what are you going to do?"
Some analysts worry the club reflects growing Islamic radicalization among the mostly moderate Muslim communities in Southeast Asian countries, where some Islamist groups are pushing for the implementation of sharia law.
The club argues that sexually fulfilled men are less likely to stray, which would curb the rise in breakdown in marriages.
Muslim couples divorce every 15 minutes in Malaysia and the divorce rate among Muslims in the Southeast Asian country are now at an all-time high, according to the Islamic Development Department.
The club has a membership of 300 and growing in Indonesia and says it has drawn a positive response from men, but some sociologists and rights groups describe it as a worrying trend which demeans women. "This is a phenomenon that depicts the strengthening of radical groups in Indonesia and this is endangering the youth because it is based on an assumption that woman is not human, this is really poisonous," said Siti Musdah Mulia, an Islamic scholar from the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace.
A recent survey by Germany's Goethe Institut, which polled about 2,500 Indonesian and Malaysian Muslims, found that 38 percent of Indonesians feel that a woman must wear a headscarf, a lower figure than 69 percent in Malaysia, while about 86.5 percent rejected polygamy in Indonesia compared to Malaysia's 72.7 percent. About 98 percent of youths in both countries rejected the idea of pre-marital sex.
"While the Obedient Wives Club has its opinions it does not reflect the view of society in Malaysia and Indonesia and maybe just reflects 0.01 percent of opinions in the societies in both countries," said Shaharuddin Badaruddin, a political and social analyst at Malaysia's Universiti Teknologi Mara.
Writing by Liau Y-Sing; Editing by Daniel Magnowski