Plurality of Marriage Law and Marriage Registration for Muslims in Indonesia: A Plea for Pragmatism

17 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2010

See all articles by Adriaan Bedner

Adriaan Bedner

Leiden University

Stijn Van Huis

Leiden University - Leiden Law School

Date Written: June 1, 2010

Abstract

This article discusses the law and practice of Muslim marriages and their registration in Indonesia. The central question is to what extent these accommodate the rights and needs of poor women. A historical overview of state involvement in marriage regulation demonstrates how the women’s rights discourse has been largely replaced by one based on Islamic law, but that nonetheless women’s rights in marriage have been substantively reinforced. The next part discusses the control of Muslim marriage in practice, by focusing on the registration of marriage and divorce. It shows how informal practices at the lowest level of the state and state courts serving as a safety net protect the rights of poor women in practice much more effectively than is often assumed. These findings undermine the assumptions underlying the current emphasis by national women’s rights groups and donors on extending state registration and criminalising non-registration. This emphasis on the juridification of people’s lives by casting the issue essentially in terms of human rights and remedies may in fact even lead to the opposite of what it aims to achieve: more liberty for women to dispose of their own lives.

Keywords: Islamic law, marriage law, Indonesia, religious courts, women’s rights, development

Suggested Citation

Bedner, Adriaan and Van Huis, Stijn, Plurality of Marriage Law and Marriage Registration for Muslims in Indonesia: A Plea for Pragmatism (June 1, 2010). Utrecht Law Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 175-191, June 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1625684

Adriaan Bedner (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, Zuid Holland 2300 RA
Netherlands

Stijn Van Huis

Leiden University - Leiden Law School

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA
Netherlands

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