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Indonesia’s NTT vows to abolish bride ‘kidnapping’ after nationwide public anger

Djemi Amnifu and Nina Loasana  The Jakarta Post  Wed, July 1, 2020

Women and men attend Women’s March Jakarta last year at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta. (The Jakarta Post/Donny Fernando )

KUPANG/JAKARTA – The administration of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) has vowed to abolish the practice of kawin tangkap (capture and wed), a form of bride kidnapping commonly practiced on the island of Sumba, after a viral video of an such an event angered a Cabinet minister and the public nationwide.

The administration claimed that the practice violated humanitarian values, the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

“The NTT administration supports the eradication of customary laws that violate human rights. […] We urge religious leaders, tribal leaders and regional administrations to stop any customary practice that shackles humanity,” the head of NTT’s Women Empowerment and Child Protection Agency, Erny Usboko, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Erny said any regulation or culture that infringed human dignity should be changed.

“Of course, it is not as easy as turning one’s hand and [the practice] could not be stopped immediately. It will take a gradual and slow process by educating local indigenous communities,” she said.

She said Sumba local administrations, religious leaders and tribal leaders could hold a discussion about equality, dignity, justice, universality and humanity.

“NTT Governor Viktor Laiskodat has held a meeting with regents from Sumba Island asking them to stop any customary law that contradicts humanitarian values and justice. We don’t want customary laws to violate human rights,” Erny said.

The practice of kawin tangkap has been in the spotlight lately after a video showing locals take a woman by a public place went viral in social media.

In the video, a group of men is seen carrying a distressed-looking woman to a black pickup. Another woman comes and hugs the woman through the open window while trying to open the car door to get her out of the vehicle.

Dozens of people can be seen crowding the car, cheering and taking videos, while the woman cries as the event unfolds.

The head of the East Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council (DPRD), Emilia Nomleni, said the practice should be stopped at all costs.

“In my opinion, kawin tangkap needs to be stopped by all means, as it violates the law and is a form of harassment not only for women but also children. We’ll never know whether the women ‘kidnapped’ from public spaces or their boarding houses are underage or not,” she told the Post on Wednesday.

An offficial from the East Sumba Tourism and Culture Agency, Yudi Umbu TT Rawambaku, admitted that the practice did not regard age when the perpetrators take a woman by force.

“There is no age limit; if a girl has gone through puberty and is considered an adult, there’s no restriction [for ‘kidnapping’ her],” Yudi said last Wednesday as quoted by

Emilia said members of the NTT legislative council had discussed ways to end the practice before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had discussed ways to end the practice, but the discussions stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All parties, from regional administrations, councillors and religious leaders to other stakeholders should take part to end the practice of kawin tangkap,” she said.

Source: THE JAKARTA POST, INDONESIA Wed, July 1, 2020

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