MEDAN — The once restive province of Aceh is planning to make it legal for men to have up to four wives but activists fear the law would normalise extramarital affairs.
Aceh is the state where LGBT practitioners get lashed in public and women are whipped if caught for extra marital affairs.
The attempt to legalise polygamy is to stem such affairs.
In March this year, two women were left unable to walk after they were publicly whipped as punishment for alleged “intimate relations” outside marriage.
The same day, a total of six couples subjected to the ordeal, carried out in accordance with Sharia law.
Aceh, located at the tip of Sumatra, is the only one in Indonesia where Islamic law is imposed.
Lawmakers in Aceh say the idea is to prevent women from entering in ‘serial marriages’ which is the form of polygamy practiced in the region.
The women are thus subjected to the illegality of the situation since Indonesia does not specifically allow polygamy. National laws legally defines marriage as the union between two adults of the opposite sex
But there loopholes in the law that takes into consideration religious and/or cultural norms for marriage, allowing for a large number of polygamous marriages (and, often, child marriages) to occur, according to Detik,
The Detik report says Aceh’s provincial government and regional council (DPR Aceh) are drawing up a qanun (Islamic penal code bylaw) regulating household affairs.
But the section of the bill intended to legalise polygamy has rocked the country.
West Aceh Ulema Council (MPU) chairman Teungku Abdurrani Adian expressed support for a plan by the Aceh administration to legalize polygamy, saying the laws currently do not recognise polygamy..
He says as the marriages were not acknowledged by the state, women tended to be put at a disadvantage, specifically in terms of the distribution of inheritances and child recognition.