Text message divorce sparks protests

Indonesians take to the streets calling for Aceng Fikri’s resignation.

Jarkarta — The marriage lasted four days and ended in divorce via text message, from the 40-year-old local politician to his 17-year-old wife.

Aceng Fikri claimed his young bride Fani Oktara was not a virgin, as she had claimed, so he decided to end the union, his lawyer Ujang Suja’I said.

She denied it, and in turn accused Aceng — who is the head of the district of Garut in West Java — of spreading baseless accusations against her. Her lawyer Danny Suliwisjaya told CNN that Aceng had deceived his client into marriage.

Aceng caused a stir after his July wedding to Fani. Although 16 is the legal age for marriage in Indonesia, Aceng was already married with children. Few Muslims practice polygamy, and while it is not against the law, Indonesian civil servants are also prohibited from taking on second spouses under strict regulations governing their private lives.

A photo of the alleged wedding ceremony was posted on the Internet. Religious weddings are common in Indonesia but marriages need to be civilly and legally registered.

Aceng claimed divorcing his wife through text messaging is allowed under Islamic Sharia law, his lawyer said.

Public outrage over the marriage, and subsequent divorce, came after Fani reported Aceng to the police on Monday, asking that he be charged with falsifying his marital status, fraud, defamation and unpleasant conduct.

Police are still investigating Fani’s complaint; as yet, there are no charges against Aceng.

There have since been daily protests in Garut, calling for his resignation.

The girl’s lawyer said she and her family decided to go public only after months of asking Aceng for an apology. (CNN)

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