JAKARTA – A dating app for polygamists has stirred quite a controversy in Indonesia among those who view the practice as a form of perversion that violates women’s rights and those who defend it as part of the Islamic faith.
In his office in southern Jakarta, Lindu Cipta, founder of the Ayo Poligami (loosely translated as “let’s go polygamy”) app for smartphones, divides his time between checking out new profiles registered, giving interviews to the media and praying five times a day.
Like almost 88 percent of the over 260 million inhabitants of Indonesia, Cipta is Muslim and, according to sharia law, can marry up to four women as long as the unions are consensual and he can support them financially.
For Cipta, who recently cracked down on fake profiles and inappropriate content, the aim of the app is to help single people – especially women who are older than 50 and are still virgins.
The Indonesian told EFE that he wants to help people who have difficulty finding partners.
A researcher of the National Commission on Violence against Women, Ninan Nurmila, who has conducted a qualitative study of the effect of polygamous marriages on women, says that, in Indonesia, most people see polygamy as something negative and out of the ordinary.
“Many Muslims claim that polygamy is part of the Islamic Sharia law, the identity of a Muslim, but they are only around 5 percent; the majority are in a middle position and believe that polygamy is permitted only under certain legal conditions,” she said.
“Polygamy can contain 4 types of violence: physical, psychological, sexual and economic,” according to Nurmila, who in her study of 39 polygamous marriages found that only in 20 percent of them the women did not suffer from one or the other type of abuse.
In September, the app’s founder got married to one of the first users of the app, making them the first couple to marry through Ayo Poligami.
Cipta created the app on Apr. 12 but had to close it down and relaunch it earlier this month after a large number of fake accounts were found among its more than 56,000 subscribers.
Currently, the app has 800 registered users, including single and married people, from among around 8,000 applicants.