ELIZABETH SOELISTIO WRITES – Sure, Tinder and OKCupid are good for finding a mate. But what if you’re after mates, plural?

To make up for the lack of polygamy features in most dating websites and mobile apps, Lindu Pranayama created AyoPoligami which literally translates to “Let’s do polygamy.”

Since AyoPoligami launched in April, it has attracted more than 56,000 users and the accompanying mobile app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times. An explosion of fake user accounts and of men using the site without their first wife’s consent led Pranayama to temporarily shut down the service, but a new and improved version went live earlier this month.

In the relaunch, Pranayama aimed to “bring together male users with women who are willing to make ‘big families.’” To address the fake users and consent issues, Pranayama added stricter rules that require men to provide identification cards, marital status and a letter of permission from the first wife.

As the country with the largest Muslim population, many of Indonesia’s laws are influenced by the Quran, including those surrounding marriage. Under Indonesia’s 1974 marriage law, male polygamy is conditionally permitted, allowing a man to have up to four wives. This law caused many who practice this tradition to justify their polygamous marriage on religion. The Quran ordains that a man can marry up to four women if he can take care of them equally.

Still, the AyoPoligami app has not been universally embraced. Women’s rights activists Zakia Tunisa and Indriyati Suparno, a commissioner from the National Commission on Violence Against Women, claim that AyoPoligami is trying to normalize polygamy and compels women to accept it.

“The reality is women tend to be victims of domestic violence in a polygamous marriage – polygamy is a form of violence against women,” Suparno said.

Yet, the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry states that it is up to individuals whether or not to partake in polygamy, provided there is equal consent. The ministry’s spokesman, Hasan said, “For us what is important is whether the women and children are protected in polygamous marriages.”

Though polygamy is tolerated in Indonesia, the requirements are not easy to fulfill.
In respect of other religions in the country, the husband must have a religion that allows having multiple wives and must have the first wife’s consent.

Other requirements are that he also must promise to treat the family fairly and have enough resources to provide for multiple wives. If the husband can fulfill the requirements and get the marriage license, he can have up to four wives.

Despite the legality of polygamy, religious leaders and imams discourage men from taking multiple wives. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, Islamic professor at the Islamic State University, strongly criticized Indonesia’s use of polygamy only to “justify their immoral practices.”

Pranayama’s other intention in creating this app is to help women in their 40s and 50s who are still virgins and unmarried. “Can you imagine being in your 40s or 50s but never been touched by a man?” Pranayama asked.

Despite the criticisms, user Iyus Yusuf Fasyiyah, who is married to two women, said that he’ll continue to build his families through this app.

“Even though you could say I am incapable of being fair, as only God can be entirely fair, we are trying to make it work. Me and my wives, we’re committed to showing people that polygamy isn’t as scary as they think,” said Fasyiyah.

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