One of Indonesia’s top ministers has come up with what he undoubtedly thinks is a quick-fix solution to the country’s poverty problem: cross-income levels marriage.
Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy yesterday urged the Religious Affairs Ministry to issue a fatwa (religious edict in Islam) making it mandatory for rich people to marry poor people in order to elevate the latter’s social and economic status.
“Because poor people [marry each other], new poor families are born. This is the problem in Indonesia.”
The former education and culture minister said that, according to official data, around 5 million of 57 million households in Indonesia are poor. Families who fall under the “near-poverty” category number around 15 million. Of the 2.5 million marriages per year, around 10 percent, he said, are destined to become poor families.
Sure, it would be naive to discard economic considerations when going into a marriage, but should the state even interfere in our marital choices?
Perhaps we shouldn’t even be surprised because this is a country where S&M could soon be banned, after all.
And since fatwas apply only to Muslims (though not legally binding), what of couples of other religions? Well, we’re not sure Muhadjir has thought of such complexities for his half-baked idea.
It doesn’t even look like he’s considered the basics of a fatwa. Responding to Muhadjir, Religious Affairs Deputy Minister Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi said the ministry does not have the authority to issue fatwas (ulemas do) and that it’s practically against the idea of regulating who people should marry.