Devina Heriyanto – The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) has again ruffled some feathers after announcing its strong stance against polygamy, saying the practice – which is allowed, if not encouraged, in Islam – was not fair to women and children.
PSI leader Grace Natalie, who recently angered several Islamic groups for publicly rejecting religious-based bylaws, delivered the party's antipolygamy stance during a party in Surabaya, on Tuesday, according to kompas.com.
"If we make it to the House of Representatives, we will implement the ban on polygamy for public servants in the government as well as for state civil personnel," she said.
The party, which claims to be the "millennial party", aims to revise the 1974 Marriage Law, which allows polygamy.
In her speech, Grace cited research by the Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK), which concluded that polygamy resulted in injustice for women and children. Furthermore, Grace pledged to fight for the sexual violence bill for women's welfare and safety.
The PSI is not the first group to call for an end to polygamy. The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has also urged the government to revise the law and end the practice.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which has some polygamous leaders, has denounced the PSI's campaign.
The Islamic party's central executive board (DPP) secretary Suhud Aliyudin told kompas.com that polygamy was part of Islamic law. He added that polygamy was not obligatory for Muslims, but it should not be banned.
"If [the PSI] raises the issue as campaign material, it's a setback; it's only useless noise," he said.
Polygamy has long been controversial in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country. Last year, in a three-day national congress of female clerics, expert Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin stated that polygamy was not part of Islamic teachings.
Netizens are divided over the PSI's proposal. Many regretted that the PSI blamed polygamy for domestic violence, while others pointed out that political parties should not interfere with personal matters.
"Polygamy is not a form of violence. What is violent is injustice, having one husband who likes to hit his wife and children, or having a wife who is a cheater," said Twitter user @Garangan57.
Language expert Erlangga Greschinov tweeted that polygamy or monogamy was a personal choice. "A political party does not have the right to interfere. You can be against polygamy, but when it's being politicized, one less vote from me for the PSI," he said.
Some Twitter users have lauded the PSI's move. Comedian-cum-filmmaker Ernest Prakarsa saluted the speech, calling it "an extraordinarily bold statement".
Twitter user Beatrice Manurung, who goes by the handle @Manroeunited, said, "As a woman, I support the PSI. I will vote for and support the PSI so long as it upholds its idealism."
Another user @lookslina said, "Of course. I wholeheartedly agree with @psi_id. Polygamy is a form of violence against women and children. #stoppoligami [#stoppolygamy]"