Got a date for the upcoming Valentine’s Day? Good for you. These youths in Indonesia say they don’t … on principle.
Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran (Indonesia Without Dating) is a movement in which the country’s Muslim youths encourage each other to skip the wonders of dating — which is sinful according to some interpretations of the religion’s teachings — and head straight to holy matrimony when they’re ready (or not, in some cases).
The group, which launched in 2015 and came into prominence circa 2018, now has one million followers on Instagram. By 2018, the group claimed that it had 20,000 members throughout Indonesia, all of whom were subjected to its IDR180K (US$13) membership fee. Its founder, La Ode Munafar, had reportedly written 62 books on young adulthood, many of which are sold at Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran events and gatherings.
One huge event is planned for Feb. 14 in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, in which the group will be declaring the date as “Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran Day.” Members will be able to attend a talk show featuring La Ode, a sexual health specialist, and an anti-narcotics official, as well as purchase books and Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran souvenirs.
As a prelude to that event, members of Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran’s Jakarta chapter held a rally in the capital over the weekend. Photos from the march, which brought out a few dozen people carrying banners that read, “Erase dating from Indonesia,” and “We support February 14 as Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran Day,” have gone viral recently.
The group wrote in the caption of the photos that similar rallies are planned throughout Indonesia in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day (sorry, Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran Day).
In all seriousness though, Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran has been heavily criticized in the past by people accusing the movement of being a cash grab taking advantage of gullible young conservatives. There are also concerns that the movement, which has members predominantly in their teens and early 20s, would normalize young and underage marriage involving people who may not be mentally, economically, and/or physically ready for a serious life commitment.
Some that have joined the group also claim that, for some members, the movement ironically introduced them to members of the opposite sex who they end up dating.
“My friend joined this, and not long after he started dating a girl he met there. [The movement] is actually just a front for anti-socials and hypocrites so they can meet like-minded people,” one user commented to one of Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran’s posts.