Muslims Face Jail under Tighter Polygamy Rules

JAKARTA ~ Indonesian Muslims contemplating an illicit second, third or fourth marriage could face jail under a proposed bill aimed at tightening the rules for polygamy, an official said this week.

The draft rules being mulled by the Religion Ministry would force Muslim men wanting to take extra wives to get written consent from their existing spouse or spouses, and prove they have the financial means to support them, ministry official Muctar Ilyas told the AFP newswire.

“The present wives must sign the letter of consent in front of an official so we know they’ve not been forced by the husband. We will report men who marry without their wives’ consent to the police on fraud charges,” Ilyas said.

“Couples must register their marriages in the presence of an authorized religious official. If not, they can be jailed up to three months and fined up to Rp5 million (US$415),” he said.

“Women are usually the ones to suffer in illegal marriages, especially if they have children. Without proper marriage documents, they cannot make claims to their husbands’ assets for instance,” he said.

Opinions are strongly divided on the virtues of polygamy in Muslim-majority of Indonesia. Islam allows for men to take up to four wives.

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