Jakarta – The draft Aceh qanun (bylaw) legalising polygamy has attracted support and opposition. Some believe that the qanun needs to be supported providing that it includes stipulations on the husband behaving fairly towards his wives.
There are others on the other hand who believe the qanun is in fact an attempt to turn polygamy into a lifestyle.
The Acehnese provincial government and the Aceh Regional House of Representatives (DPRA) are currently deliberating a qanun on family law. One of the issues it will regulate is the practice of polygamy. The justification given for this is the widespread practice of nikah siri (common law marriage recognised by Islamic law) by those practicing polygamy.
The qanun was included in the legislation program (Proleg) in late 2018 and the deliberations are ongoing with a public hearing planned for August 1.
DPRA Commission VII Deputy Chairperson Musannif said that the draft qanun was drafted by the Acehnese provincial government (Pemprov) and has already been accepted by the parliament. The draft has been deliberated since early 2019.
"In the qanun, one of the chapters regulates polygamy. Polygamy has a basis under Islamic law which we already know and in the Koran it is also allowed", said Musannif on Saturday July 6.
Responding to the plan, the Aceh Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) apparently supports the DPRA's move to enact the qanun on family law. The FPI supports the stipulations on polygamy providing that the husband continues to behave fairly.
"We the FPI Aceh fully support the DPRA in immediately ratifying the qanun legalising polygamy for rich and well off people. Moreover, it would be great if regents have a minimum of three [wives], the DPR Kab/Kota [regency and municipal legislators] have two, the Aceh DPR three, sub-district heads two, the KUA [Office of Religious Affairs} two and Kades [village heads] be allowed to have two. As well as those whose incomes and assets are sufficient be allowed to have two", said FPI Aceh Chairperson Tgk Muslim At-Tahiry on Sunday July 7.
Muslim said that for those who want to practice polygamy they must first fulfill the requirements, one of which, according to Muslim, is the requirement that they be fair because this is one of the stipulations in the Koran.
"The stipulation of being able to practice polygamy is having to be ready to behave fairly in everything, and it needs to be remembered by men so that they don't just marry women out of lust, but the intent of marriage is to protect women, the intent of marriage is holy", said Muslim.
According to Muslim, the aim of polygamy is so that the land of Aceh will be filled with indigenous Acehnese people. He said it is a pity that much of the land of Aceh is empty and also regrets that the Acehnese people always loose out because their community is small.
Nevertheless, the polygamy qanun has also attracted criticism. Women activists in Aceh say that polygamy is not a lifestyle.
"Talking about polygamy is not a problem of women 'panicking' because basically none of use deny that the issue of polygamy exists in Islamic teachings", said Acehnese women's activist Muazzinah Yacob in an interview with Detik.com on Sunday.
"If the presence of this qanun only promotes wrong behaviour as if polygamy is a lifestyle for those who are well off then it fails to look at the essence of polygamy itself. Polygamy is not a lifestyle", said the Banda Aceh Ar-Raniry State Islamic University (UIN) lecturer.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has also criticised the polygamy qanun saying that it will only promote syahwat (lust, sexual desire).
"The concern is that it's an expression of a patriarchal point of view, just promoting syahwat, not treating women with respect. According to Komnas Perempuan's data from complaints it's women and child victims that suffer most from polygamous marriages", Komnas Perempuan Commissioner Adriana told journalists on Sunday.
In addition to this, Adriana said that the commission believes that polygamy is a form of violence against women and children. So according to Adriana, polygamy should be banned.
"For Komnas Perempuan, polygamy is a form of violence against women and children. This practice must be banned, the same way that many in the country's Muslim majority prohibit the practice of polygamy", she said.
"Sure, one party benefits, so men can satisfy their sexual lust with more than one woman. The question is are women also allowed to be polygamous?", she asked. (rdp/rdp)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Qanun Poligami Aceh Tuai Pro Kontra".]