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Want to marry RI woman? Pay Rp 500m in deposit


Jakarta Post, October 10, 2005

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

If you happen to be a not-so-rich foreign gentleman who plans to marry an Indonesian lady here, you'd better tie the knot quickly as the authorities may put an expensive price tag on Indonesian women in the future.

Unknown to many, the Supreme Court is mulling requiring foreign men to deposit some Rp 500 million (about US$50,000) before marrying Indonesian female citizens.

The idea was recommended during a recent Supreme Court national working meeting, which was attended by the Supreme Court leadership and top judges from across the country. It was not immediately clear how the proposed scheme would be implemented.

But according to a document studied at the meeting, such a regulation is applied in Egypt, where foreign men are required to pay a sum of money into a state bank before marrying Egyptian citizens.

"In a bid to protect women, the state of Egypt requires every (male) foreigner who plans to marry an Egyptian citizen to pay 25,000 Egyptian pounds into the Nasser Bank as a bond," said the document, a copy of which was made available to The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

The Supreme Court may likely follow up on the idea by submitting it to the government or the House of Representatives, which would draft the ruling.

The recommendation by the male-dominated Supreme Court will add to the complications faced by transnational couples wishing to register their marriages here.

Many consider the current Indonesian law on citizenship as failing to protect transnational couples, particularly marriages between Indonesian women and foreign men.

Such couples must go through lengthy and complicated immigration and other processes to legalize their marriage under Indonesian law.

More problems usually occur later since the Citizenship Law (No. 62/1958), which applies the outdated bloodline principle, does not allow foreign men married to Indonesian women to change nationality, while any children of the marriage will automatically take the same citizenship as the father.

The non-Indonesian husband and children are then treated in much the same way as foreign tourists or visitors. It means they must fly to neighboring countries to renew their visas should the family decide to live in Indonesia.

According to the law as it now stands, when an Indonesian woman who is married to a foreign man dies, her name cannot be inherited by her husband and children.

The Indonesian government instead auctions off the property within one year, leaving the mourning family homeless.

The unfavorable situation has forced many Indonesian women to marry their foreign fiances abroad, although this does not actually solve the problem should they decide to live in Indonesia.

The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has submitted a bill to amend the 1958 Citizenship Law to the House of Representatives. However, the House has yet to list it for further deliberation.