Since only the beginning of 2019, Indonesia has seen at least eight separate cases of men killing their wives and children.

On February 16, Nardian, 38, allegedly murdered his wife Sri Dewi and their youngest child after attending evening prayers at a village in Blitar, East Java. The wife’s brother Sugeng and her father Supriadi reportedly tried to restrain the attacker but failed, as Nardian used a knife and stabbed his wife and their seven-month-old baby Vika to death outside their house.

Witnesses gathered around the house and saw Nardian weeping as he hugged his wife’s dead body. After he was arrested, Nardian reportedly asked his neighbor if he had just killed his wife and why were his hands tied.

Tarji, Sri Dewi’s cousin said the couple had been married for 10 years and rarely had problems. However, just about two months before the incident, Nardian exhibited changes in his behavior—he was being less friendly to people and got easily agitated.

A psychiatric examination declared Nardian had mental problems and he was subsequently referred to a mental institution. He told the examiners that he had been suffering from delusions and hallucinations where he saw his wife having an affair with another man.

In another case, a man killed his pregnant wife when she refused to give him the passcode to her cell phone.

A man in West Java had also killed his wife and his reasoning behind it was that he had found out about his wife’s affair.

Aaron Ben-Zeev, a philosophy professor writes in the magazine Psychology Today that almost all murder cases in which men kill their female partners occur either as the woman ends the relationship or shows signs of doing so.

In 2008, Ben-Zeev covered this issue in his book In the Name of Love; Romantic Ideology and its Victims, and pointed out that love is the major cause behind such killings. He clarified that while love does not justify murders, the state of mind of such men must be understood in order to prevent similar cases.

In such cases, the murderer is usually the weaker partner who sees the woman as the sole point of his existence. Ben-Zeev added that such men are unable to let their partners go when their ability to maintain their view of themselves depends on their partner’s existence in their lives. This kind of love—a toxic kind—turns the female partner into a hostage, which can prove to be fatal if and when things go awry.