Banu

Mochammad Yusni Aziz

2018 - Ongoing

Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia

Sexual violence is traumatic. It turns a woman’s life upside down. In Banu’s case, it totally changed everything since it happened two years ago. She used to be a very brave and reliable human rights activist, before the night when she was raped by a male friend. Months after, she got diagnosed with PTSD, and her life was changed forever. She started to lose faith to the people around her, her religion and even more to herself. From then on, she slowly stepped down from the podium, deciding to keep her life under the radar.

What had happened to Banu also affected a lot of women in Indonesia. The National Commission on Violence Against Women published a statement in 2018 that each year thousands of Indonesian women were subjected to sexual violence. With more than 6,000 cases reported in 2017. The society's lack of knowledge towards women's rights and psychosocial disability make the life of a survivor like Banu even harder. Because of her PTSD, Banu has been having difficulty to get a job, unable to finish her study, and some friends even staying away from her. Her life became very gloomy and uncertain, but up until now she always tries to have faith in what it’s like to be a woman, and to be alive.

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  • 1. After days of traveling out of town, Banu cries a lot in a café. She felt sad why she could not feel any joy within her heart, even though her friend had tried so hard to make her happy. This episode lasted for hours, before she finally decided that she needed to go to the hospital.

  • 2. A black cat in a second-hand book store that we visited.

  • 3. Banu has to take anti-depressant pill everyday. She said it helped a bit, but she did not like how the pill made her very sleepy and unproductive.

  • 4. Banu in a banana garden. After she came out from the psychiatric ward, her family asked her to move to her younger sister’s house at Bekasi, the suburb of Jakarta, so they could take care of her. She escaped the city life for a while, and took the time to heal herself.

  • 5. A picture of Banu kisses her mother at her oldest sister's home in Jepara, Central Java. She also once lived with them for recovering process. But, she did not stay for too long as she often had arguments with her mother.

  • 6. Banu goes for a swim after weeks of staying only inside her room. She said she loves swimming, even though she was not good at it. Therefore, many times she dreamt to drown herself to end everything. She thought it would be less painful than other ways.

  • 7. Banu hugs Ais, her bestfriend. Ais was one of her friends who stayed beside her after she publicly spoken that she got PTSD. Many decided to add some distance, mainly because they thought Banu's attitude became very challenging after the event. They also did not know much about how to help PTSD patient.

  • 8. The new Banu. She removed her hijab to look for a job as sales promotion girl. Since her mental struggle had been preventing her to finish her study, she looked for a way to support herself that did not require university degree.

  • 9. Whittered flowers

  • 10. Banu sits in her new room. After months living in the suburb, she found out that the quiet town vibe was not for her. She still has a lot of dreams that she wants to fulfill. Even that means she has to live and struggle alone without her family besides her.

  • 11. Banu tries on her new lipstick. She always think she is too pale, even though many already convince her that she is an attractive girl. She likes to play with make-up to boost her confidence.

  • 12. Banu prepares herself for a shower.

  • 14. Banu and Ben, her boyfriend. It took a long time for Banu to finally find love because of her condition. She finally met Ben, a sweet and loving companion. However, Ben is a devoted Christian, and Banu comes from a strict Shia Moslem family. Ben decided he will only marry a Christian girl. Knowing this, Banu started to learn Christianity. She goes to church with him every Sunday, and joins the classes on Christian teaching. Her family opposes her action, but she keeps on going.

  • 13. Banu throws away her hijab. She had been covered herself since primary school, and it was all her own decision. She was a very religious girl, and was an active member within the Shia community. PTSD changed everything, as she could not find comfort anymore within her own religion.

  • 15. Banu cries heavily inside the emergency unit. This was her second time admitted to the psychiatric ward. Her doctor once said to her, "if you think you would not make it by tomorrow, come back here." She did.

  • 16. Banu calms down her niece. That night, her sister’s family and her father came to help Banu packed her stuff to move out from Jakarta. As the doctor suggested, Banu had to live nearby her family as her support system.

  • 17. Banu leans against the railing of a balcony. For her, the road is still far and blurry. For now, she has been working on her thesis to finish her study. She proposes a controversial topic: "suicide in the existantialist view of Jean-Paul Sartre." She decided to work on it to look for the philosophical argument on the right to suicide as a free woman. She also works on it to look for the reason why she needs to stay alive.


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