“Let’s do polygamy“: New dating app stirs debate in Indonesia

Women shop for headscarves, or hijab, at a traditional retail market in Jakarta, Indonesia, in this May 5, 2015 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 02 October 2017
0

“Let’s do polygamy“: New dating app stirs debate in Indonesia

BOGOR, Indonesia: Scrolling through dating websites a year ago, Indonesian app developer Lindu Pranayama realized there were a lot of married men looking for another wife — but few online services to meet their needs.
“When they go to regular dating sites, they don’t see options for polygamy. They don’t see options for finding second, third or fourth wives,” he said.
Enter “AyoPoligami” — a new smartphone app developed by Pranayama, which aims to “bring together male users with women who are willing to make ‘big families’.”
Loosely translated as “Let’s do polygamy,” the Tinder-style dating app has already stirred up controversy since its April launch in Indonesia, where over 80 percent of the 250 million population are Muslim and polygamy is legal.
Muslim men can take up to four wives in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, if permission is granted by a court and the first wife gives her consent.
Court officials could not provide figures of how many people in Indonesia are polygamous, but activists say cases of men giving false information to gain permission and manipulation of women are common.
The app has been downloaded over 10,000 times before it stopped registering new members following concerns of fake accounts were being set up, and men using the site without the knowledge of their first wives.
A new version is set to be launched on Oct. 5, and will impose stricter rules on users including requiring them to provide an identification card, marital status and a letter of permission from their first wives.

’THIS IS WHAT GOD PLANNED FOR ME’
Iyus Yusuf Fasyiya, an Indonesian factory worker who has two wives, said he used the app to share tips with other users on how to maintain a polygamous marriage.
“Many members are looking for wives — they ask about how to start, how to maintain polygamous marriages, and also government regulations,” he said from his home village in Bogor, about 90-minute drive from the capital Jakarta.
The 37-year-old dodged questions about whether he was using the app to look for another wife but said he continues to learn about polygamy, after he took on his second wife six years following his first marriage in 2000.
“It just happened, this is what God planned for me,” said Fasyiya, who takes turns to see his two wives and five children who live in nearby villages.
The majority of the app users were men, but there were also about 4,000 women who have registered, the app developer said.
Lawyer Rachmat Dwi Putranto, who deals with marriage matters, said polygamy is “not that easily achieved” as Indonesian courts will only give permission if the first wife is disabled, ill or cannot bear children.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
But Indriyati Suparno, a commissioner from the government-backed National Commission on Violence Against Women, said the app was trying to “normalize polygamy.” “The reality is women tend to be the victims of domestic violence in a polygamous marriage — polygamy is a form of violence against women,” she said.
Indonesia’s Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry said it was up to individuals if they wanted to use the app because polygamy is legal as long as it can be done in a fair manner.
“For us what is important is whether the women and children are protected in polygamous marriages,” the ministry’s spokesman Hasan, who uses one name, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
User Fasyiya said he will continue to refer to the app to learn how to juggle his two families.
“Me and my wives, we’re committed to showing people that polygamy isn’t as scary as they think,” he said.
“We’re trying to make it work.”


Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Updated 21 June 2018
0

Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

  • Recent appointments in Egypt are the latest example of the rise of women to high political office in the region
  • “The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position”

CAIRO, LONDON: The appointment of two more female ministers this month to the new Egyptian Cabinet means women now fill eight out of 34 positions, the highest number in the modern history of Egypt.

Hala Zayed is the new health minister while Yasmine Fouad takes over as environment minister. Both women replaced men and join culture minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat, Nabila Makram (immigration minister) Ghada Wali (social solidarity minister), Hala El-Saeed (planning minister) and Sahar Nasr (minister of investment and international cooperation).
The appointments by Egypt’s new Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly have been welcomed as forward thinking by social and political commentators.
Dr. Magda Bagnied, a writer and professor of communication, told Arab News: “I believe whoever planned for those eight effective ministries was looking forward for the future of Egypt since they are all interconnected in some way, and having females leading them is a leap forward.
“A country’s rank and status is measured by the role of women. The higher the number of leadership roles for women, the further the country is considered to be on the road to development.”
Four out of 15 new deputy ministers are also women and women now hold 15 percent of the seats in Parliament.
The rise of women to high political office in the Arab world is by no means restricted to Egypt.
Jordan also has a record number of women ministers after Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz appointed seven women to the 29-member Cabinet sworn in last week.
“The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position.”
The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Twenty-three members of the new Jordanian Cabinet have been ministers before and 13 were members of the outgoing government that was brought down by popular protest.
Rawan Joyoussi, whose posters became one of the defining images of the protests, said: “I was hoping that women would be empowered and I am happy with that. But as far as the composition of the rest of the government is concerned, I think we have to play our part to create the mechanisms that will hold the government accountable.”
In the UAE, women hold nine out of 31 ministerial positions, and one of them, Minister for Youth Shamma Al-Mazrui, is also the world’s youngest minister, appointed in 2016 when she was only 22.
This makes the UAE Cabinet nearly 30 percent female, which is higher than India, almost equal to the UK and far ahead of the US, where Donald Trump has just four women in his Cabinet.
The general election in Morocco in October 2016 produced 81 women members of Parliament, accounting for 21 percent of the total 395 seats. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won the most votes, also ended up with the highest number of women MPs, 18.
Though elections in Saudi Arabia were open to women only in 2015, it ranks 100th out of 193rd in the world league table of women in national governing bodies, slightly above the US at 102nd place.
A policy briefing from the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington says that one of the best ways for a country to ease economic pressure and boost productivity is to increase female participation in the workplace and in political life.
“Introducing diversity through gender parity will benefit economic growth and can help Arab countries to generate prosperity as well as the normative and social imperative of change,” wrote analyst Bessma Momani.
Yet in some parts of the Middle East, female representation seems to be going backward.
In 2009, four of Kuwait’s 65 MPs were women. In 2012 there were three and in 2013 only one. In 2016, 15 women stood for election to the 50 open parliamentary seats (the other 15 are appointed). Only one, Safa Al-Hashem, who was already an MP, was successful.
Qatar has no women MPs or ministers at all.
Egypt’s appointment of two more women ministers does not have the appearance of tokenism. The new Health Minister, Hala Zayed, 51, has a solid background in the field as a former president of the Academy of Health Sciences, a hospital specializing in cancer treatment for children.
She was also government adviser on health, chairwoman of a committee for combating corruption at the ministry she now heads and also has a Ph.d. in project management.
Similarly, Yasmeen Fouad, 43, the new environment minister, has four years’ experience as a former assistant minister in the same department, where she was known as “the lady for difficult missions,” and liaised with the UN. She is also an assistant professor of economics and political science at Cairo University.
Egypt’s first female minister was Hikmat Abu Zaid, appointed minister of social affairs in 1962 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who dubbed her “the merciful heart of revolution.”
Now there are eight like her, demonstrating that in the Middle East, “girl power” is on the rise.