The recent bust of a prostitution service disguised as an online dating platform has put the controversy over nikah siri (informal unregistered marriage) back into the spotlight. The Jakarta Post’s Corry Elyda and Ika Krismantari discuss why people still love to embrace this bald-faced hypocrisy.  

by Corry Elyda and Ika Krismantari

Imagine arriving at a wedding ceremony, but you find no fancy dresses, no stunning decorations, no crowd and no Instagram updates. Around you are the bride, bridegroom, cleric and a couple of perfect strangers. What reigns is a sense of secrecy. Such a scenario can be very real here in Indonesia when a couple has their nikah siri blessed. Secret lovers may opt for a simple wedding ritual on the belief that all they need for the union of a man and a woman is love, if not lust, and the divine blessing. Under Islamic law, a man can marry a woman as long as there is a guardian for the bride — usually her father or a male relative — as well as witnesses and a dowry. This practice of nikah siri (literally translates as secret wedding) remains commonplace in the predominantly Muslim country.  In Arabic, sirri means “clandestine.” From the Islamic religious ...