Woman posing as man for marriage faces up to 6 years in prison after being charged with ‘document falsification’

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The story of Nova Aprida Avriani, who posed as a man named Pratama in order to marry a woman named Wilis Setyowati in Purworejo, Central Java, made numerous headlines in Indonesia this week after Nova’s alleged deception was uncovered by marriage officials.

While same-sex marriage is illegal in Indonesia, homosexual acts themselves are not. Even though Nova and Wilis never actually got married, the authorities still found reason to take legal action against Nova by charging her with document falsification.

“We have detained (Nova) because there’s suspicion that she falsified documents,” said Kholid Marwadi, head of the Crime Investigations Unit at the Purworejo Police, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

The documents in question were marriage application forms that Nova submitted to the Religious Affairs Office (KUA), in which she registered herself using a male name. According to the country’s Criminal Code, falsification of official documents is punishable by up to 6 years in prison.

As for Wilis, her family said that she is deeply depressed about being deceived as she claims that she did not know that her fiancé was actually a woman despite dating her for 7 years.

“Wilis is a good girl, naïve, so even though they dated for 7 years they didn’t do anything weird. That’s why, until the other day, she didn’t know that her fiancé was actually a woman,” said Wilis’ father, Thamrin, as quoted by Detik today.

Thamrin added that her daughter is refusing to see anyone, even close friends and family, because she feels deeply ashamed about the whole incident.

Last year, also in Central Java, a woman posed as a man in order to get married with another woman. In that case, the wife was not aware of the true gender of her “husband” as “he” allegedly refused to consummate their marriage for months. When the deception was exposed, the poser was charged with falsifying her identity and faced up to 7 years in prison.

Same-sex marriage faces such strong opposition in Indonesia that last year’s marriage between celebrities Aming Supriatna Sughandi and Evelyn Nada Anjani — neither of whom conform to traditional Indonesian cultural gender roles, with (Aming) appearing effeminate and (Evelyn) appearing masculine during many of their appearances — pushed the issue into the spotlight, with even the House of Representatives (DPR) calling for Aming and Evelyn’s marriage to be investigated to make sure that they did not violate the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

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