Studying Families in Southeast Asia Exploring Polygamy and Its Dynamics in Indonesia

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Bayu Kaumpungan


As one of the most fundamental parts of social structure, marriage significantly influences society. In Indonesia, the complexity of issues in a marriage is increased considerably by the practice of polygamy. Historically, polygamy has been a part of Indonesian society. Nonetheless, as Indonesia progresses to become more democratic society, women’s rights in polygamous households has become a topic of tension among Indonesians. The effort to address women's rights in polygamy is confronted with a sensitive hurdle due to the close association of polygamy with religious beliefs, particularly within Islam. As defined by the faith, polygamy was designed to be the social welfare protection system for a widow and her children. However, the modern practice has deviated from its original intention and is at risk of harming women’s rights. As such, establishing a broader perspective of polygamy with an approach that leans more towards accepting Indonesian plurality and tolerance is critical for protecting women’s rights.


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