Polygamy in Indonesia Enters New Era With This Controversial Dating App

Indonesian marriage
Indonesian marriage | © antoni halim/Shutterstock
Edira Putri

Indonesia’s long history of polygamy dates as far back as the Prophet Muhammad. Although the practice has long been a subject of controversy in the nation, it’s now taken a modern turn, with the imminent release of AyoPoligami, a dating app designed especially for polygamists.

Polygamy and tradition

From the pro side of the controversy, a Muslim scripture is quoted, stating that Prophet Muhammad himself practiced polygamy as a means to provide for and generally improve the lives of women in need of support. He then allowed Muslim men to have up to four wives, but not without a warning that all wives must be treated fairly. That mandate became the basis for the Indonesian 1974 marriage law, which draws many of its aspects from Sharia, which is a religious law from Islamic tradition adopted by many Islamic countries.

If you look back even further into its history, polygamy was already common practice during ancient times when separate Hindu Kingdoms ruled the archipelago, a few centuries before Islam entered and dominated the nation. Back then, many kings and royals took several wives to increase political influence and show authority.

Since the early 1900s, a faint voice of women’s rights began to emerge, most popularly by Kartini, a young Javanese royal whose thoughts were made known through her correspondence with international friends and published in Letters of a Javanese Princess. In her letters, Kartini argued how polygamy is a violation of women’s rights, a surmise that is still used today as an argument against the practice. But in a patriarchal society in which polygamy has found a religious pedestal, that voice did not manage to overcome the mainstream noise.

Kartini

Post-independence polygamy

In the 1950s, Indonesia’s first post-independence leader, Soekarno, became the unofficial patron of polygamy by taking a second wife, Hartini. Soekarno’s first lady Fatmawati couldn’t do anything about the decision, even though her objection was made known to the public.

Even during the leadership of Indonesia’s first and so far only female president, Megawati, in 2001–2004, the cry for more emancipation in (at least) domestic settings did not make much difference as the vice president was a polygamist.

It wasn’t until 2007 that the women’s right to object to their husband’s appeal for polygamy was upheld and protected by the constitution. Even after that, women still find themselves pressured by society and often feel obliged to allow their husbands to take a second wife.

Indonesian marriage

A modern twist to polygamy

The long history of polygamy twisted in an unexpected direction when a Tinder-like dating app launched earlier this year. While the dating app was taken down after thousands of downloads, it is scheduled for a relaunch in October 2017 after the founders consulted with prominent religious leaders.

AyoPoligami (translates as “let’s do polygamy”) describes itself as a “platform that works to match male users with women ready to be part of a large family.” In compliance with regulations, the app will require a letter of permission from the first wife as well as official identification.

Just like the wider issue that it carries, AyoPoligami has already faced heated controversy. Some are convinced that the app will not likely be popular, while others are excitedly waiting for the relaunch.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
close-ad
Edit article