A seminar promoting polygamy in Indonesia is to go ahead, despite the event’s registration form being pulled offline following complaints by women’s rights activists.
If you’re weary of scrolling through ill-informed social media posts about coronavirus and racism, the latest trending topic in Indonesia is a one-day polygamy workshop, charging about Rp4 million (US$282) for attendance. That’s more than a month’s wages for many Indonesians.
The event is to be held on July 5 in Serang, about 80 kilometres west of Jakarta. A promotional flyer highlights key points, such as “Wife Not Rejecting Polygamy”.
The instructor is ‘Coach’ Hafidin, who boasts four wives and 24 children after 20 years of polygamy.
Prospective participants, who must be Muslim males, are asked to complete an online registration form and transfer funds to the organizer’s bank account. But on Monday, the registration form, hosted by 123FormBuilder, was suspended for breaching the site’s terms of service.
Those terms don’t explicitly ban activities related to polygamy, but do they state that forms marked as suspicious by third-party services can be suspended.
Men still wishing to attend the seminar now have to register via smartphone messaging until an online booking form is restored.
Polygamy was frowned upon (although not outright banned) in Muslim-majority Indonesia during the 32-year regime of former president Suharto, who stepped down in 1998. Since then, conservative Islam has become increasingly fashionable. Consequently, seminars and online apps encouraging lustful men to take up to four wives have become potential money-spinners.
Muslim feminists, such as Anisa Dewi Anggriaeni, feel polygamy is now just a commodity to satisfy the lust of men, whereas during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, it was a compassionate act of charity – marrying war widows and orphans who lacked financial support.
The seminar promotion currently making the rounds on social media is titled “Full Day Workshop: Successful Polygamy Mindset”. Promoted by the Family Robbanian group, it is organized by a company called PT Mindplus Relevan Sentosa.
The “investment” cost for attending the seminar is Rp3,799,000 for the first 10 registrants. That’s a 20% discount from the normal rate of Rp4,749,000. The number of participants is limited to 30. If the organizer gets a full house, that amounts to Rp132.97 million (US$9,380).
According to a flyer, the seminar will take place at an air-conditioned hotel and includes lunch, two coffee breaks and a handbook titled “How to Succeed in Ta’adud”. Ta’adud means ‘multiple wives’. The organizer said the hotel has not requested that participants bring a certificate of clean health.
The spiel promises “you will have success in your household and polygamy” and warns that a lack of knowledge will result in “more damage than benefits”.
Comments from netizens are mostly derisive, such as questioning how a polygamous man would be able to afford to raise 24 children. One person asked, “In which sport is Hafidin a coach? ” This prompted the response, “Mattress sports.”
Polygamy is permitted under Indonesia’s Marriage Law, provided the man receives his current spouse’s consent, obtains a court permit for multiple wives and can provide equal financial support for his wives. A man can also take a second wife if his current wife “cannot perform her obligations as a wife” — such as being infertile, critically ill or physically disabled. Given the red tape, many men seeking a second, third or fourth concurrent wife opt for unregistered marriage (nikah siri), officiated by an Islamic cleric.
Feminists complain that polygamy leads to injustice against women and sin. Some had considered attending the seminar but were deterred by the high cost and the men-only policy. One satirist has made a spoof flyer, promoting a spurious polyandry workshop.