Published: 30/06/2008

This article is a summary of a case study of an issue in reproductive health services and childbearing mothers. This case study is taken from one of seven Districts in Indramayu, Surakarta, Lampung Utara district, West Sumba district, East Lombok district, Jembrana district, and Lebak district. It is describing the life story of Tuminah who lives in Pekandangan Jaya village, Indramayu subdistrict, Indramayu regency.


Case Study in Pekandangan Jaya village, Indramayu subdistrict, Indramayu Regency 

Tuminah (35 years old) is the first child of 6 siblings, 2 of whom have passed away. Tuminah’s mother got married 6 times, all ended up in divorces after lasted for just about 1 or 2 years. Tuminah admitted to not knowing her father closely because since she was born she was brought up by her mother. She just remembered that there were many men that became her mother’s friends and fathered some children. It is not very clear whether her mother was officially married or just passed through a sirri marriage (married according some religious rituals but not registered in state records) with her fathers. From those marriages Tuminah’s mother got children, 4 of whom became her younger siblings, two brothers and two sisters from different fathers, but it was Tuminah alone that stayed with her mother that had enabled her to go to elementary school and accomplish her basic education.


After leaving her elementary school, Tuminah was confronted with pressing economic needs that had forced her to seek for jobs that might help contribute additional income for her family. Tuminah went through various work experiences ranging from doing laundries, being a house-maid to becoming a female migrant worker. She even once became the victim of trafficking where she was employed as a prostitute in Batam.


Tuminah became a female migrant worker in a very young age, 13, because she was forced by her uwak (uncle) and her mother’s close relatives to work abroad as a female migrant worker in order to improve her family’s economic condition and to look for funds to renovate her decrepit house. Tuminah just followed what was said by her uncle and her mother and worked as a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia for four months, with a monthly salary that equaled to around Rp.600,000. She was sent to Saudi Arabia by her uncle who worked as a migrant worker scalper. In Saudi Arabia Tuminah worked as a house-maid. She, however, did not work for long since she did not feel strong enough and was homesick.


Back from Saudi Arabia, Tuminah was again entangled in economic difficulties and the fact that it was very hard to find a job with such a low educational level. This had pressed her to receive again the offer to work that had resulted in the fact that she became the victim of a scalper’s trickery. The scalper offered her to work as a house-maid in Batam. But after arriving in Batam she was forced to work as a prostitute. She was not able to refuse because she was under the pressure of obligation to pay the debts as much as Rp 2 millions that she had used as her airfare to Batam. She then worked as a prostitute for two months so that she was able to collect an amount of money to pay back her scalper’s loan. Only after paying off her debts, was Tuminah able to go back to Indramayu. During her work as a prostitute in Batam, Tuminah admitted to having experienced pains in her reproductive organs, namely the gonorrhea and inflammation and itching in her vagina. In spite of this she did not go to hospital for a general check-up. To overcome this she just bought the bodrex, went to a masseur, bought or made jamu (tonic made of medicinal herbs) by herself. It was a mixture of ground turmeric and galingale to cure the gonorrhea. Sometime she took Tetra antibiotics that she bought in the drugstore nearby.


In her first pregnancy Tuminah had herself three times checked by a midwife. In addition to that she also went to a traditional birth practitioner (a dukun, usually a female) for a massage to position her baby in place. The dukun did the positioning massages twice, first in the second month pregnancy and the other in her fifth. Every time she was massaged she felt a terrible pain because her belly was strongly pressed by the dukun. However, she kept visiting the dukun as it was strongly advised by her mother and her relatives. Other than that the dukun herself is still a close relative of Tuminah’s mother making her believe in her.


After terminating her work as a prostitute, Tuminah went back to Indramayu and began her love affairs with alternating boyfriends. They lived together in the same house. Tuminah’s last boyfriend who is now living with her is a scalper looking for girls who want to work as prostitutes. It is from this man that Tuminah gets her financial assistance to satisfy her daily needs and her mother’s. None of her boyfriends wanted to marry her although they had lived together as a couple. Nevertheless, Tuminah did not take into consideration her unofficial relationship with her “husband”. Tuminah was even pregnant twice from her two boyfriends. During her pregnancy Tuminah often fell down because she often suffered from anemia although the midwife had given her some rhodoranziacs. She often suffered from headaches and feebleness making her easy to fall.


Nine months had passed, and it was time for Tuminah to give birth. With the help of her neighbors Tuminah summoned the midwife to help the childbirth. The process of childbearing was terribly painful because the child was difficult to pop out. After waiting for all night long, Tuminah ran out of strength to strain her abdominal muscles. According to Tuminah, the midwife who attended her childbearing got confused and impatient to wait for such a long time. The midwife then poured one liter of cooking oil onto her oviduct to function as a lubricant in order for the baby to pop out easily because the baby could not be born after 24 hours of contraction. Tuminah did not understand why her baby could not pop out. The midwife did not either. Beforehand during the check-up Tuminah’s pregnancy was declared as normal, good, and nothing wrong.


Finally the midwife with her whole strength pressed Tuminah’s belly, asking also those present to help the childbirth. Some were holding her legs, others were on her head and body. Tuminah cried painfully. Her oviduct became swelled for 5 months after the childbirth rendering her not able to walk. It was really heartrending. After such a painful struggle to bear the child, the baby was already dead. It was because it stayed too long in the womb. Tuminah felt very sad losing her baby. She had also to pay the childbirth cost for Rp300 thousand which was taken from her previous savings.


In the second pregnancy Tuminah had herself checked by a midwife who opened her practice not far (3 km) from her house. But Tuminah also went to a dukun. This time Tuminah’s childbirth went smoothly, unlike the one before. Tuminah was successful to give birth to a baby girl. The process of childbearing was attended by the midwife and the dukun she had visited during her pregnancy. The dukun asked for a compensation of Rp. 400 thousand considering that she had helped wash Tuminah’s and her baby’s dirty clothes, and the fact that she had been visiting Tuminah’s house for one month helping the mother and the baby. The midwife demanded the same amount so that Tuminah had to provide Rp. 800 thousand for her childbirth cost. This was felt as too heavy by Tuminah. Fortunately, the midwife allowed her to postpone her payment after she had had the money. ***