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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Tinder-style app for polygamous marriages in Indonesia stirs controversy

Polygamy is legal in Indonesia, where a man is allowed to be married to up to four women at a time

The option to download the AyoPoligami dating app is seen on a phone in Jakarta on September 14, 2017. Beawiharta / Illustration / Reuters
The option to download the AyoPoligami dating app is seen on a phone in Jakarta on September 14, 2017. Beawiharta / Illustration / Reuters

A Tinder-style dating app in Indonesia that aims to bring together men and women interested in polygamous marriages has stirred controversy and debate.

Polygamy is legal in Indonesia, where a man is allowed to be married to up to four women at a time.

Lindu Pranayama, the 35-year-old developer of the app called AyoPoligami, said the idea came to him a year ago when he was scrolling through a dating app.

"A lot of men are looking to engage in polygamous marriages but when they go to regular dating sites or apps they don't see options that cater for polygamy," said Mr Pranayama.

The app, which has registered 10,000 users since its launch in April - around 60 per cent of whom are men - has gender-specific chatrooms for users to discuss their experiences in polygamy or ask for advice.

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It allows users to swipe left or right on a person's profile to signal their willingness - or not - to meet them, much like the popular mobile dating app Tinder.

Under Indonesian law, a man needs formal consent from his first wife and approval by a religious court to enter into a polygamous marriage. Legal experts say some men try to avoid the approval process, however.

Mr Pranayama said security on the app was tightened after fake accounts started to appear. The app will resume accepting new members on Thursday, he said.

Women's rights activist Zakia Tunisa said the app was "upsetting and shocking".

"The app gives a stimulus for polygamy to be accepted in society and maybe even compelling women to accept it," said Ms Tunisa, an activist at Women's Solidarity for Human Rights.

Three female users who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they were open to entering into polygamous marriages. One said she was more "open minded" than her parents who oppose polygamous relationships.

Iyus Yusuf Fasyiyah, 37, who is married to two women, said he uses the app to discuss with other members the experience of being in a polygamous marriage.

"Me and my wives, we're committed to showing people that polygamy isn't as scary as they think," he said. His wives declined to comment.