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A Tinder-style dating app for polygamists has sparked controversy in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation — but its developer says he “just wants to help” unmarried middle-aged women.
Indonesian law defines marriage as between a man and a woman but polygamy is tolerated in certain circumstances, despite being generally frowned upon. Ayo Poligami, loosely translated as “let’s go polygamy”, is a free smartphone app that matches married and single Muslim men with women who want to create “big families”.
It has attracted more than 56,000 members since its launch in April, according to developer Lindu Cipta Pranayama.
But women’s rights campaigners have criticised the app, warning of a strong link between polygamy and domestic violence.
“Due to the controversy, I initially wanted to permanently shut down the site, but when I saw many women in their 40s of 50s who are still virgins and unmarried I decided to keep it,” Pranayama told Tuesday.
“Can you image being in your 40s or 50s but never been touched by a man?” added the 35-year-old, who created the app after failing to find a wife on several dating sites.
Indonesian men who apply to one of the country’s Islamic courts, which have jurisdiction over marriage, are able to take a second wife under certain circumstances.
For example, a court may review and grant an application if the man’s first wife is unable to bear children or has a disability and gives her permission.
Adriana Venny Aryani, from Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women, said polygamy as facilitated by Ayo Poligami could be harmful to wives.
“When the husband is practicing polygamy, women are emotionally abused, economically (abused), and sometimes violently,” she said.
Pranayama said a high number of fake accounts had caused the platform to temporarily close, but a new version is set to launch on Thursday with more stringent user criteria.
Indonesian authorities recently shut down another controversial matchmaking site, Nikahsirri.com, which offered “virgin auctions” for men and women looking for marriage.
Police arrested the founder of the short-lived site, Aris Wahyudi, over the “pornographic content” it contained.