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Polygamy on Rise in Indonesia, Activists Say

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Muslim girls in Jakarta, Indonesia

Muslim girls in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Adam Jones, Ph.D.

Nurhayati bent to the dirt floor to gather peeled shallots that fell as she prepared lunch for her two children.

The 37-year-old first wife in a polygamous marriage spends much of her time in her modest kitchen, cooking fritters to sell in her village in Cilebut, a regency of Indonesia’s West Java province.

“I didn’t want it. But the children don’t want their parents to separate,” Nurhayati told BenarNews, recalling the time six years ago when her husband took a second wife against her wishes.

“I want to keep and raise my children. They’re my everything. Maybe this is my fate, so I take it,” Nurhayati, a peddler’s wife, said as she began to weep.

Polygamy, frowned upon but legal under certain conditions in Indonesia, is increasing alongside the rise of conservative Islam in the Muslim-majority nation, activists say.

“The issue is escalating as fundamentalism is on the rise,” Azriana Manalu, who chairs the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), told BenarNews.

Polygamy harms women who are locked in such marriages, according to the commission, which was established by presidential decree 20 years ago to eliminate violence against women.

“Polygamy is a violation of women’s rights and a crime in married life … Wives and the whole family members are cheated. Sadly, it’s becoming a phenomenon in Indonesia,” said Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, vice chair of Komnas Perempuan.

Full story: BenarNews

Zahara Tiba

Copyright ©2018, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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