Global Voices

Magdalene magazine gives a platform to women and other marginalized sectors of Indonesia

"We channel the voices of feminists, pluralists and progressives, or just those who are not afraid to be different, regardless of their genders, colors, or sexual preferences."

“I am Magdalene. I contain multitudes.” Picture courtesy of Magdalene, used with permission.

Since 2013, Magdalene has been publishing articles that speak to adolescent girls and women, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and religious minorities in Indonesia.

This online publication was launched to offer a space for writers who wanted to tackle taboo topics in a country where Islamic hardliners have been aggressively pushing authorities to enforce their religious beliefs in society.

Indonesia is the largest country in the world with a Muslim-majority population. Its founding principles as a nation include the promotion of pluralism, moderation, and a concept of religious harmony known as Pancasila.

Below is Magdalene’s manifesto:

Magdalene is the fruit of our vision of an online publication that offers fresh perspectives beyond the typical gender and cultural confines. We channel the voices of feminists, pluralists and progressives, or just those who are not afraid to be different, regardless of their genders, colors, or sexual preferences. We aim to engage, not alienate.

Magdalene's founders are former journalists Devi Asmarani, Hera Diani and Karima Anjani. They said in a recent interview that they initially planned to create a web-based magazine that would serve as an alternative reading platform for women. Asmarani explained further:

We want to raise issues that are important… progressive issues that do not receive a lot coverage by the mainstream media because of reasons such as being taboo

After five years, Magdalene continues to publish stories that are not often covered by mainstream media. These sensitive topics include LGBT, pluralism, sexual abuse, and body shaming.

It has built a team of dedicated writers and a growing reader base who support the website’s manifesto.

Below are some of the appreciative comments from Magdalene's readers:

In an interview with this author, Hera Diani mentioned that Magdalene’s male readers comprises 30 to 40 percent of all readers recently. She added that many male readers have expressed their gratitude for the enlightening articles published by the magazine. LGBT readers have also commented on how Magdalene articles have opened their minds about the paternalistic, misogynist and hetero-normative behavior that still exist in the community.

Originally published in Global Voices.

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