Child-raising, Childbirth and Abortion In Extremis: Women’s Stories of Caring for and Losing Children during the Violence of 1965–1966 in Indonesia

Annie Pohlman


In this paper I examine women survivors’ stories about childbirth and child-raising during the period of mass violence following Indonesia’s 1965 coup, as well as some accounts of abortion during detention. The focus of my research is not on children’s experiences per se but rather on women survivors’ accounts about what happened to their children. I discuss various aspects of these experiences, including: being pregnant and giving birth; caring for children in and outside detention; the harm and abuse of children; losing children; and forced abortions. These stories reveal much about how women cared for and lost children as well as about what happened to children during the violence of 1965. I argue that examining these experiences must therefore also be central to understanding how women and their children survived and coped with the mass violence of 1965–1966. I also argue that these stories of caring for children, as well as of how children were harmed or lost, were fundamental parts of many women’s testimonies.

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