Indonesia has seen several disturbing incidents of extreme domestic violence in recent weeks, the latest of which was allegedly carried out by a wife over her husband’s secret marriage to another woman.
On July 13, a 30-year-old woman named Aminah from Jeneponto regency in South Sulawesi reportedly splashed boiling water on her husband, 28-year-old Bahtiar, for getting married to another woman without her knowledge.
“When the victim was asleep in their room, the wife boiled water in a pan and put the water in a bucket. After that, she took the bucket containing the boiling water and poured it on her husband.”
Police said Bahtiar was treated by traditional healers, but succumbed to his injuries six days later.
In her confession to the authorities, Aminah said she was angry at her husband but did not intend to kill him. While she is likely to be charged with murder, which carries a potential maximum sentence of 15 years (or life imprisonment if the murder is ruled to be premeditated), police say they have also charged her with violating the Domestic Violence Protection Act.
Details about Bahtiar’s marriage to the other woman are not yet known, including whether or not it was legally recognized.
Polygamy is not specifically permitted by Indonesian law, but the issue has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks in light of Aceh — the only Indonesian province given special authority to enact its own sharia-based laws — contemplating legalizing the practice. Politicians and clerics in the region have argued that polygamy occurs regardless so legalizing it is necessary to protect those involved, but critics say that it would be detrimental to women’s rights, pointing specifically to clauses in the proposed law that would make it easier for men to justify marrying additional wives without the approval of their first spouse.
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