The Jakarta Post
Amid a long-standing controversy surrounding polygamy in Indonesia, a group promoting the polygamous lifestyle has announced a plan to file a judicial review against a number of articles in the 1974 Marriage Law, as it deems the articles discriminative against those committing the controversial practice.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Saturday, Sakinah Polygamous Family Forum (FKPS) secretary-general Fakhrul said Article 3 of the law, which stipulates that a husband is only allowed to have one wife, for example, had led to the issuance of other discriminative regulations against those practicing polygamy.
'The one-family-one-wife rule has made it difficult for a polygamous family to obtain a family card, or birth certificates for their children. This is clearly discriminative as it [polygamy] is a part of the implementation of Article 29 of the 1945 Constitution that promotes religious freedom,' he said on the sidelines of the group's annual congress in Sumedang, West Java.
Fakhrul, who claimed to have two wives, said Islamic teachings allowed Muslims to practice polygamy. The two-day congress, which will end on Sunday, will discuss and formulate the group's recommendations on the review of regulations on polygamy in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
'The recommendations, as the outcome of the congress, will later be submitted as a judicial review. We are now completing its final draft,' said Fakhrul, adding that the event was attended by around 60 participants from several cities.
The Marriage Law upholds the principle of monogamy, but allows husbands to have multiple wives under certain conditions, including that of being married to a woman who is suffering from a serious illness and unable to bear a child.
Human rights and religious activists, for example, have been campaigning for the banning of polygamy, arguing that the practice could trigger violence against women.
The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has urged the government to speed up an amendment to the Marriage Law to strengthen principles of monogamy. It recorded more than 70 polygamy cases involving public officials that ended up as sexual abuse cases in 2015.
Last year, the Defense Ministry received wide criticism after it issued a circular that said polygamy was permitted under certain conditions. A number of leading political figures, including former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Anis Matta and suspended North Sumatra governor Gatot Pujo Nugroho, have also been criticized for their polygamous lifestyles, which they do not hide from the public.
Bandung-based Padjajaran University law expert Sony Dewi Judiasih underlined that the Marriage Law actually promoted the principles of monogamy by applying strict requirements on those who attempting to practice polygamy.
'According to the law, polygamy is actually not a simple practice as the husband has to secure permission from several parties, including the court,' she told the Post.
Sony said she respected the FKPS's plan to file a judicial review of the law, but quickly reiterated that the law actually provided guidance to control polygamy practices.
'The court's permission [to practice polygamy] serves as a filter, so that polygamy is not practiced abusively,' she said.
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