A culture of arranged marriages still exist in some parts of Indonesia and children can face tremendous pressure from families to marry spouses chosen by their parents. The story of one 18-year-old woman who allegedly ran away from home rather than be forced to marry her parent’s chosen match has captured the imagination of the national media.
Police say the young woman, Hilda Fauziah has been missing since she left her parent’s home in the Pancatengah district of Tasikmalaya Regency in West Java on November 4, about two weeks before she was set to be wed.
Since then, Hilda’s 42-year-old mother, Ailah, says that she hasn’t heard anything from her daughter. The wedding was cancelled.
Ailah admitted that she wanted to marry Hilda to a young man from their village who was three years older than her.
“But she has another boyfriend and finally she left home,” Ailah told Detik yesterday.
At first the family suspected that Hilda had gone to be with her boyfriend, who was studying at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) but police said that the young man had not left the school and had not been contacted by Hilda.
There were also suspicions that Hilda might have been kidnapped, but police said the evidence indicated that she had indeed left because of her refusal to submit to the arranged marriage..
Pancatengah Police Chief Jonnaedi told the media that Hilda had actually long been arranged to marry an older village boy, named Iyep, but had only been told about the arrangement a few months before the date she was meant to be married.
Jonnaedi said that Iyep has already married another woman.
According to the police chief, authorities have been trying to find Hilda for the last three months. The most recent reports say that authorities were trying to find her in the city of Garut, where she was reportedly seen begging.
Many media outlets have compared Hilda to the titular heroine of the famous 1922 Indonesian novel Sitti Nurbaya, which is about two teenage lovers who are separated by fate and tragedy, it has been compared to Romeo and Juliet.