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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 02:43 GMT
Indonesia head mulls polygamy ban
Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (file image)
Indonesia's mainstream Muslim parties oppose Mr Yudhoyono's plan
Proposals by Indonesia's president to restrict the right of the country's public servants to practice polygamy have sparked an angry reaction.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proposed extending a law banning the taking of multiple wives to all public servants.

Currently anyone not a civil servant in the predominantly Muslim country is allowed to marry up to four wives.

But a tightening of the law, which bans polygamy under the constitution, could also affect ordinary citizens.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson, in Jakarta, says that some of the loudest opposition to the president's plan has come from Indonesia's mainstream Muslim parties.

Rarely restricted

They argue that restricting the practice, which they say is sanctioned by the Koran, will lead to increased levels of adultery.

Muslim men who are not working as civil servants are currently allowed to marry up to four wives as defined by Islamic teaching.

Government spokesmen in Indonesia say that rule will be expanded to cover all lawmakers, ministers and other government officials.

Under current laws, Muslim men may marry a second time only if their first wife is infertile, ill or absent, however these restrictions are rarely enforced.

The decision to update the country's polygamy code comes just days after popular Indonesian cleric, Abdullah Gymnastiar, caused uproar by announcing he had secretly married a second wife.

The cleric was seen by many as a model husband and a promoter of family values.

Our correspondent says it is not clear how prevalent polygamy is in Indonesia.

Many observers believe it has increased in recent years, while others say it has simply become more open.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Indonesia
15 Sep 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Indonesia
01 Oct 05 |  Country profiles

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