Men who lie about wanting to get married to get laid can get 4 years in jail under proposed Indonesian law

Photo illustration (CC0)
Photo illustration (CC0)

Among the many, many concerns activists have about a draft revision to Indonesia’s Criminal Code (RKUHP), which is set to be passed by the House of Representatives (DPR) later this month, are a number of articles that codify Indonesia’s increasingly conservative moral norms into law. In addition to criminalizing cohabitation and expanding the statutes on adultery, the latest version of RKUHP also contains an article that makes lying about the possibility of marriage to get laid a criminal offense for men.

As reported by CNN Indonesia, article 418 of RKUHP states: “A man who has intercourse with a woman who is not his wife with the woman’s consent because of the promise that they will be married, then reneges on that promise because he tricked her, shall be sentenced to a maximum of four years in prison or a maximum of category III fines.” 

The article further states that if the sex leads to pregnancy and the man is not willing or unable to marry, they can be sentenced with up to five years in prison.

If RKUHP is passed, Indonesia would not be alone in having such a law criminalizing fake promises of marriage. In India, a country with similarly conservative sexual mores, their Supreme Court recently issued a controversial ruling that sex between consenting adults can be considered rape if it involves a man who goes back on his promise to marry a woman. The judges in that ruling argued that “sexual intercourse under total misconception cannot be treated as consent”.

India’s Supreme Court made the distinction that, if the man could prove that he intended to marry the woman at the time they had sex but changed his mind later, then it was not rape, so it would only constitute a criminal act if prosecutors could establish that the man had no intention to marry the woman from the start. Based on the language contained in the most recent version of RKUHP, the bill does not make a similar distinction regarding intent at the time of intercourse.

In addition to the lied-to-get-laid law, RKUHP also contains an article that would make cohabitation (which the legislation defines as two people living together as man and wife outside of marriage) a criminal act that can be reported upon by third parties, including village heads, and punished by up to six months in prison.

Indonesia’s current penal code criminalizes adultery, but only in cases where a spouse reports their cheating partners to the police. Under RKUHP, parents and children of alleged adulterers may also report their moral crimes to the police, allowing for the possibility of individuals being charged with adultery even if neither participant is married.

RKUHP contains many more articles that have activists alarmed, including those concerning insults towards the president and judges, the promotion of contraceptives, abortions and blasphemy.

According to legislators, the content of RKUHP has already been finalized but further refinements to the bill’s language, to provide greater clarity and prevent legal ambiguities, may still be made. The DPR is expected to vote on the bill and pass it on September 24.

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