ARTICLE

Childfree : The Rise of Anti-natalism in Indonesia

By English Literature - Faculty of Humanities • 20 days 16 hours ago

By Salma Putri Imansari (B27)

Childfree is a term that refers to an adult or married couple that does not want to have children of their own or by adoption, even though they are biologically capable of having one. This is different from couples with biological conditions that prevent them from procreating. It derives from antinatalism, an extreme social movement that condemns human procreation and sees humans as pests that are responsible for the destruction of natural habitats. Not only limited to humans, some antinatalists also embrace the idea that all organic procreation is morally wrong.

Antinatalism is a global phenomenon that has become trending in the past decade. There has been a significant rise in people who have chosen to be childfree for numerous reasons. A survey from the Pew Research Center shows that 44% of childless adults in America are more likely to say that they have no intentions to ever become parents. A revolutionary psychologist, Satoshi Kanazawa, suggested that highly intelligent individuals are more likely to prefer a childless marriage than low intelligent individuals. It is also possible that women with higher educations or women with financial issues may be more likely to prioritize their careers and financial gains over motherhood.

Although most Indonesians don’t believe in antinatalism, they do, however, exhibit curiosity and support for the childfree movement. It has become a cultural phenomenon that occurs among young adults of different social and financial statuses, particularly in large cities such as Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Banten, Surabaya, Jogjakarta, etc.

Origins of Childfree Women in Indonesia

A study conducted by the National Socioeconomic Survey or SUSENAS (Survei Sosial Ekonomi Nasional), proposed that since the year 1971, Indonesia’s total fertility rate (TFR) has been showing a constant decline in the number each year. In this study, the prevalence of childfree women was determined by participants of women aged 15 to 49 who had been married but had never had living children. SUSENAS presents questions about the plan of having children exclusively for women who do not use contraceptives. SUSENAS data shows that the population of childless women in Indonesia has reached approximately 8.2%, which is equivalent to 71,000 people. If questions about children could also be asked of those who use contraceptive methods and those who are not married, the number of childless women in Indonesia is likely to be larger than it is now.

Despite the fact, childfree is a relatively new movement and societal concept in Indonesia. Numerous factors could be counted as the contributing reasons for the increase childless marriage, such as:

  • The increased price of staple goods. Inflation has caused foods like rice; chili peppers; milk; and eggs to become more inaccessible and expensive.
  • The rising cost of living. The cost of housing, education and healthcare is on the rise.
  • Change of social norms and expectations. Women are encouraged to pursue higher education.
  • Mental health. Some individuals hold the believe that they are mentally incapable of raising a child.
  • Financial struggle. Some couples simply cannot afford to raise a child.
  • Family background. High expectation parents, broken home, and abusive households might lead people to delay to having their own children.
  • Personal reason. The decision of being childfree could be more than just financial problems or education. It could be complex with varieties of reasons.

Gita Savitri is an internet celebrity who caused a quiet controversy with her statement earlier this year. She has made a comment during her Instagram Live, stating that having children is a burden and that being childless is the key to youthfulness. Her statement caused a heated argument on the internet with a number of people criticizing her actions. Because of the controversy of her statement that became a national headline, she involuntarily helped spreading the childfree movement to the general population. It is no wonder that this concept has caused a furious reaction from netizen, particularly among older generations from the Islamic point of view. It is widely acknowledged that Indonesia is a religious country and the people still hold a firm belief In Islamic law and norms. According to Farisi (2021) this movement is in contrary with the islamic teachings. The law of childfree is still being debated by scholars. Some say it is haram and there are also those who say it is makruh which is not haram but advised to stay away from this concept. But most of the scholars agreed to advise Muslims to stay away from childless lifestyle.

Impacts of Antinatalism on Society and Its Future

It is reported that human intelligence is linked to parents’ genetic contribution. In a hypothetical situation, if a cultured society decided to stop procreating and leave the procreation act to the less cultured, the decision’s impact would have had a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the nation and its people. An advanced society must preserve its utmost lineage to prevent the extinction of its culture and heritage. The standards of modern women have risen throughout the years. But still, not all women are created equal. Most have a university degree and a career, some might not want to go to a university or work an office job. In large cities, young women are shunned for wanting a simple life, such as being a homemaker or living in the countryside. Antinatalism or the childfree movement could potentially impact the mental health of under appreciated mothers all around the globe. Being a mother is possibly one of the hardest jobs in the world. Undoubtedly, it is not suited for everyone. After all, in nature, everything is not equally created.

Conclusion and Prediction

In conclusion, childfree is a complex societal phenomenon with both positive and negative impacts on the whole society. From my perspective, this movement could potentially cause damage to the nation. If this trend continues, it would have had a cataclysmic impact on Indonesia’s productivity. The market relies on the younger generation with productive age. I am convinced that we will not see an increase, if not a significant rise of childless marriages in Indonesia in the coming years.

References

Farisi, S. A. (2021). CHILDFREE DALAM PERSPEKTIF ISLAM. ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363844147_CHILDFREE_DALAM_PERSPEKTIF_ISLAM

Häyry, M., & Sukenick, A. (2023). Imposing a lifestyle: A new argument for antinatalism. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0963180123000385

Anonymous. (2016). Is intelligence hereditary? Scientific American Mind, 27(3), 73. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamericanmind0516-73

Kanazawa, S. (2014). Intelligence and childlessness. Social Science Research, 48, 157–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.06.003

Leliana, I., Suryani, I., Haikal, A., & Septian, R. (2023). Respon Masyarakat terhadap Fenomena “Childfree” (Studi Kasus influencer Gita Savitri). Cakrawala (Lembaga Penelitian Dan Pengabdian Pada Masyarakat Akademi Manajemen Informatika & Komputer Bina Sarana Informatika), 23(1), 35–43. https://doi.org/10.31294/jc.v23i1.15716

Pew Research Center. (2021, November 19). More childless U.S. adults now say they dont plan to ever have kids| Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2021/11/19/growing-share-of-childless-adults-in-u-s-dont-expect-to-ever-have-children/