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09 Nov 2017


In 1830s, Javanese noblewomen must have a title of Raden Ayu (Princess) to be recognized as part of noble family. The caste rule was applied to Kartini and her two sisters, Kardinah and Roekmini, as well.
Kartini, Roekmini, and Kardinah were daughters of Jepara’s regent, Raden Mas Sosroningrat, from two different mothers. Kartini and Kardinah were Ngasirah’s daughters, a woman of a religious scholar. Meanwhile, Roekmini was born from a noble descendant from Madura, Raden Ayu Moeryam.
Since they were 5 years old, Kartini and Kardinah had been separated from Ngasirah. She separated herself from her daughters to let them lived in the main house. She was also willingly called Yu (Maid) by Kartini and Kardinah and as well as her other children, and lived like a maid in a big house.
Kartini (Kardinah and Roekmini as well), must get in an isolation at home (Pingitan), from the moment she had her first menstruation. She couldn’t leave home or meet visitors, not until a royal prince came to propose her. In her seclusion time, she was also taught how to be Raden Ayu. She learned how to serve a husband; to cook good meal for him; to show noble etiquette, like how to walk, talk, and behave appropriately, before him; and how to take care of her body to please him.
Kartini had different wishes, though. She wanted to follow his brother’s path, RM Sosrokartono, to pursue education to Netherlands. However, her family didn’t permit her to go to Netherlands, because she was a woman. She felt frustrated, but Sosrokartono encouraged her by giving her books, and asked her not to let her mind be imprisoned. With his encouragement, Kartini started to write her opinion.
Her writings changed Kartini and her sisters’ fate. They put them as smart noblewomen who were concerned about the change of Javanese women’s equality. With Dutch colonial government’s support, they made a concept of women school. Kartini also had been offered a scholarship to continue her study in Netherlands, to follow his brother’s path. However, her family rejected it, afraid if Kartini’s action might break the existing social order of Javanese women. The wishes of Kartini and her two sisters, Roekmini and Kardinah, were declined by the coming of marriage plan. After all, they had to become Raden Ayu like how most Javanese noblewomen had to be…