Jakarta – The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) says that the Aceh Regional House of Representatives (DPRA) does not need to issue a regional regulation (qanun) on polygamy. Despite the current discourse on polygamy in Aceh the matter is clearly regulated under Law Number 1/1974 on Marriage.
Sri Nurherwati from Komnas Perempuan's legal and policy reform sub-commission says that the marriage law already regulates polygamy and the conditions that have to be met for a man wanting to have more than one wife.
"So there's no need for it to be regulated again in a perda (bylaw) because all of the stipulations exist in the Marriage Law, the requirements, grounds, and procedures. If they want to have more than one wife but don't meet the requirements, grounds or procedures, then it becomes a criminal offence. A crime against the basis of marriage", said Nurherwati in Jakarta on Monday July 8.
Nurherwati believes that if the justification for enacting a regulation on polygamy in Aceh is because of the widespread practice of nikah siri (common law marriage recognised by Islam) then what needs to be fixed is the registration of marriages.
"If there's a lot of nikah siri, then what has to be tightened up is marriage registration, so that it's no longer an obligation but a citizen's right. So, the state must be pro-active in registering marriages", she said.
Nurherwati says that most of those practicing nikah siri are doing so to avoid violating the requirements of the marriage law. Not a few of those practicing polygamy do not meet the requirements regulated under the law.
Based on this, she warned that the bylaw or qanun on polygamy should not be allowed to legitimise practices which violate the marriage law.
"This means don't let the qanun legitimise practices which violate the law. The qanun must reinforce the implementation of legislation. So violations of the law don't happen", she asserted.
It was reported earlier that the Aceh provincial government and the DPRA were deliberating a regional regulation or qanun to legalise polygamy to address the widespread practice of nikah siri in Aceh.
Aceh Islamic Law Office head Alidar said that the phenomenon of nikah siri is becoming more widespread and this is having a bad impact on domestic life because many men are not taking responsibility for their wives and children.
"[But] it's still a discourse and under discussion, because many people practice nikah siri [but] are not taking responsibly for children and wives. So the legalisation of polygamy is being discussed, but I want to emphasise again that this is not yet definite, it's still a discourse", Alidar told CNN Indonesia. (sah/gil)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polemik Qanun Poligami Aceh, UU Perkawinan Jadi Sorotan".]