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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Indonesian cleric arrested for marrying 12-year old girl

From Monsters and Critics:
Police arrested a Muslim cleric in Indonesia's Central Java province for marrying a 12-year-old girl in violation of the country's child-protection law, an officer said Wednesday.

Pujiono Cahyo Widianto, 43, revealed in August that he had taken a 12-year-old girl as a second wife in a traditional Islamic wedding ceremony, sparking criticism from child-protection groups.

Police in Semarang, the capital of Central Java, said they had charged Pujiono with sexual exploitation of a child.

The country's child-protection law defines children as people under 18.

'The maximum jail term for such an offense is 15 years,' said Roy Hardi Siahaan, chief detective for the local police.

Pujiono has defended his action, saying he would not consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty.

Child rights activists have accused Pujiono of paedophilia and of depriving the girl of an education.

Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni also condemned the marriage and demanded it be cancelled.

While it is admirable that Indonesia has arrested the man, an AP report adds a relevant detail:
The cleric's wedding and proclamations that he intended also to marry two other girls, aged 7 and 9, angered many in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation with more than 210 million believers.
And finally another interesting point from Gulf News:
Pujiono Cahyo Widianto wed the girl before thousands of people in Central Java province last August.
Where was the outrage then? It looks like the real problem was his public intentions to marry the younger girls, not the marriage to the 12-year old.

(photo h/t Andre)