A 12-year-old girl was married off to a 45-year-old polygamist in Banyuwangi, East Java, highlighting once again the pervasiveness of child marriages in the country.
According to the victim’s family, the girl’s adoptive mother wed her to the man — who already had three wives — to repay their favor, as he often gave them money to cover for the girl’s schooling and medical bills.
The girl’s biological parents lodged a complaint with the police, saying they were unhappy that their daughter was given up to a polygamous man.
“The victim’s biological parents do not accept the marriage. The marriage was carried out without their permission,” said Imam Ghozali, who represents the victim, today.
The adoptive mother is the sister of the biological mother.
“[The girl and the man] have been married for four weeks. The husband is always around. As for whether or not they have consummated the marriage, we don’t know. It’s the police’s authority to investigate and carry out a medical examination,” Imam added.
The legal age for marriage is 19 in Indonesia, but, as is in this case, many circumvent laws on marriage by committing to unions that are recognized by traditional and/or religious customs — a practice locally known as nikah siri.
The victim’s family is demanding that the man be charged with violation of marriage laws and possible statutory rape on the victim.
The police have begun questioning witnesses related to the case but have yet to produce charges.
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