Indonesian Parliament is set to pass a Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) within a few days that will penalise premarital sex, with up to one year punishment in jail.
“Anyone who has intercourse with someone who is not their husband or wife shall be punished for adultery with a maximum imprisonment of 1 (one) year or a maximum fine of Category II," reads Article 413, Paragraph 1. The regulation will come into effect in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation if a complaint is registered by the husband or wife of the perpetrator of adultery or parents of children not bound by marriage. However, complaints can be withdrawn before the matter reaches trial court.
The development came after a meeting between the Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights and Commission III of the Indonesian Parliament in November.
When the code was announced three years back, tens of thousands across Indonesia protested in the streets for this curb on their freedom of speech. If the new criminal code is passed, then it would be applicable to Indonesian citizens and foreigners alike. Business groups have raised their concerns that the new rules might impact Indonesia's image as a tourist and investment destination.
Other bans in Indonesia include insulting the president or state institutions, expressing dissent/having opposing views to Indonesia's state ideology, love-in relationships, which discriminate against women, religious minorities, and LGBTQ community.
Indonesia, not a stray case
Indonesia's declaration that consummation of a relationship before marriage as illegal, is not unprecedented, and apart from a list of Muslim countries that criminalised this situation long back, there are a few surprises.
Among India's neighbours, Pakistan has blacklisted premarital sex and adultery as crimes under the Hudood Ordinance. Premarital sex can also be punished by up to five years in prison. In Afghanistan, the Taliban punishes 'offenders' of premarital sex and adultery are stoned to death. In August 2010, a young couple was stoned to death by hundreds of villagers in Kunduz Province of northern Afghanistan for pre-marital sex.
Qatar, currently hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, follows Zina laws that ignify voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman not married to one another. This form of Islamic legal tradition considers sex outside of marriage, pregnancy out of wedlock, and adultery as crimes and 'perpetrators' could face upto one year imprisonment. Muslim offenders are given an additional penalty of flogging, while married Muslims may be stoned to death. Reports state that even foreign fans who have come to catch the football tournament, could face up to seven years in prison if caught violating the ban. Saudi Arabia also follows Zina laws and bans pre-marital sex. However, the pre-requisite here requires four respectable people who were witnesses to the actual penetration.
In Iran, the Penal Code “stipulates that the penalty for fornication is flogging, that is 100 strokes of the lash, for unmarried male and female offenders”. Article 83 states that adultery in the following cases shall be punishable by stoning.
Somalia, being an African country that follows Islamic law, considers sex outside marriage a criminal offence, and those convicted by Sharia courts face brutal punishments. In 2008, a young woman was killed after being pelted with stones in the wake of a conviction by a Sharia court for adultery.
Sudan, which has a Muslim majority, operates under the Sharia law, punishes the accused of premarital sex and adultery by stoning them accused to death. In 2012, Intisar Sharif Abdallah a young mother of one was found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. Malaysia also follows the Sharia law, and it is illegal for unmarried Muslims to even meet behind closed doors. If they engage in close proximity or khalwat, the couple can be fined Rs 1,000 ringgit (€216) and up to six months in prison.
The Philippines, a non Muslim nation, considers premarital sex and adultery as crimes under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. The laws in Egypt also frown on sex before or outside of marriage. In 2017, Dohaa Salah an Egyptian presenter was sentenced to three years imprisonment for discussing pre-marital sex on TV. She was convicted of disclaiming public decency and ordered to pay 10,000 Egyptian pounds (£430) in compensation.