A 20-year-old man in West Lombok has reportedly married two teenage girls with the two marriages having taken place within less than a month, highlighting the pervasive problem of child marriage in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province.
According to reports from local media outlets, the man, who is identified by his initial R, married his first wife, identified as F, on Sept. 17, and married another girl, identified as M, on Monday this week. Both F and M are reportedly 16 years old.
Photos from R and M’s marriage, which were shared on Facebook, went viral and became a hot topic among netizens. The photos show R sitting between F and M, all of them clad in traditional clothing. They were reportedly married in a traditional ceremony, locally known as nikah siri — a practice that recognizes unions according to religious customs.
R’s father, Ayuni, told Kumparan he was shocked to learn that his son decided to get married, especially because he’s still enrolled as a student at a vocational high school (SMK).
“Yes, I was shocked. Because he’s still in school. The National Exams (UN) are coming up,” Ayuni said.
R and M have been dating for the past three years, while R has only been in a relationship with F for a much shorter time. After R got married to F, M and her family paid a visit to R’s home to meet his parents last weekend, during which time they asked R to marry M.
Though R, F, and M have yet to speak to the media about their polygamous union, R’s parents appear to be more ready to speak to the press. Ayuni, for one, complained that he had to spend IDR50 million on their weddings, but expressed hope that his son will continue with his education.
“I want my son to continue his education. I am able to support him through college. I can cover for R’s living expenses. I am also capable of supporting his two wives,” Ayuni said.
R’s mother Nurminah also expressed the same wishes, hoping that his marriage to two women won’t become a hindrance to finishing his education.
NTB has had a long struggle with child marriage, while estimates from Unicef showed that there are more than 1.2 million girls who were married before they turned 18 across Indonesia.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.