Indonesian Brides-To-Be Alarmed Over Proposed Government Policy
Wedding bells for Indonesian brides-to-be are suddenly put on hold due to a government bill that requires foreign groom to pay a $55,000 "security guarantee" to their Indonesian spouse.
According to reports, enraged brides-to-be are threatening to flee the country and marry their beaus abroad if the government approves the plan, which is said to be a part of a wider marriage law reform being pushed by Muslim conservatives. On the other hand, foreign grooms are questioning the Indonesian government’s move when stories of foreign men being exploited by gold-digging women are rampant in the Southeast Asian country.
The proposal requires foreign men wishing to wed Muslim women to put a guarantee of 500 million rupiah ($55,000 or ) into an Indo-Islamic bank. The said bill, however, does not apply to Christians, Buddhists or Hindus. If the couple divorce, the wife will be entitled to the amount. If they stick together for at least 10 years, they can claim it as "shared property." "The provision... is intended to protect the rights of women and their children if their husbands neglect, fail to provide for, leave Indonesia secretly... divorce or do anything which harms their interests," the bill adds. Violation of the said provision is considered a criminal offense.
In an interview with Nasaruddin Umar, an Indonesian Religious affairs ministry official, the guarantee is designed to stop foreigners entering fake marriages in order to set up businesses or buy property in their wives' names, and to ensure that women are financially secured against divorce. Also, the bill was made to protect the sanctity of marriage which should not be ‘be tainted by lust or personal interests’, he adds.
Most Indonesian women thinks the bill is ‘ridiculous’, and that ‘the government has no respect for Indonesian women’. A respondent, who wish not to be named, said that local men should charge local men as well. Critics say it will only encourage people to "live in sin" outside of wedlock, leaving women more vulnerable.
Ms Nia Schumacher of Melati Worldwide, a group which lobbies for the interests of people in mixed marriages, said the proposal would lead to an exodus of "runaway brides." Ms. Emmylia Hannig, co-chairwoman of the Association of Indonesian Women in Multinational Marriages (Srikandi) also rejects the proposal. If the law is indeed intended to protect women, it should apply to both foreign and local men, she added. Local statesman Iskan Qolba Lubis said that the bill will make it difficult for couples to get married and that the act is ‘discriminatory’.
On the other hand, Indonesian Council of Ulema chairman Amidhan lauds the proposal and agreed with Umar saying that they have heard many cases of foreigners marrying Indonesian women and leaving them with nothing.
Reports claim that the proposal, spearheaded by the religious affairs ministry, will be sent to parliament for approval by the end of the year.
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Kasal.com thanks the following sources for this article:
Arshad, Arlina, Agence France-Presse.
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