Sun, 27 Oct 1996

On mixed marriage

The Jakarta Post's coverage on Legal consequences of mixed marriage (Oct. 20) was an eye-opener and certainly serves as a lighthouse. However, the hard-to-cope with legal pitfalls connected with mixed marriages deserve to be addressed.

The most painful problem in the event that a mixed marriage breaks up is child custody and support, complicated by the nationality of the child or children.

Law cannot resolve all problems arising out of failed marriages. But it can mitigate the traumatic fallout. A simple way to soften a situation, where an Indonesian woman has to take on all the odds at present, is to enact a law which could confer on all children born in Indonesia, inside of wedlock, Indonesian citizenship. In conjunction with this, if the law allows for the alien husband to become an Indonesian citizen -- say, after one year of registering the marriage -- this would add further to the security and durability of the marriage.

Lastly, the existing law on this subject is not sexist. Perhaps the law does not want Indonesian women to marry aliens, without actually prohibiting it. This intended but indirect purpose has faltered and has created serious situations, which would not be the case if mixed marriages were forbidden, in the context of Indonesia trying to integrate its economy with that of the world at a fairly fast clip.

Thus law, never a fixity, needs to be changed in this case, not challenged. Here is where The Jakarta Post can help out, kindling public sympathy and support.