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FILE - Indonesian couples wait for their turn to wed during a 47-couple mass wedding ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2005. VOA
  • The group suggests ta’aruf, the Islamic cultural practice of getting to know prospective spouses, usually through family introductions
  • Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran conducts both online and offline activities
  • Writer Munafar says he believes dating is largely deleterious to young people’s lives

According to followers of a popular Indonesian social movement, the country would be better off without dating.

Writer La Ode Munafar, 26, started Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran (Indonesia Without Courtship) nearly two years ago to encourage young Indonesians to skip dating and go straight to marriage.

The group’s message seems to have touched a nerve, acquiring over 200,000 Facebook likes and over 300,000 Instagram followers to date. Its posts often draw from Islamic culture, mixing in content about hijabs, for instance, with anti-dating graphics.

“I was concerned about the younger generation, who are victims of the doomed culture of courtship,” Munafar said when asked why he started the movement.

While the anti-dating movement has grown here, there have been several high-profile, unusual marriages in local news: one between two middle school students and another between a 16-year-old boy and 71-year-old woman, both in Sumatra.

Though these stories are somewhat sensationalist, child marriage is a big problem in Indonesia. Between 14 percent and 35 percent of Indonesian girls marry before age 18, depending on the province, according to UNICEF. Some child welfare advocates worry that the movement to skip dating in favor of marriage will aggravate this issue.

Burgeoning movement

Munafar says he believes dating is largely deleterious to young people’s lives.

He is 26, married, originally from Southest Sulawesi and currently lives in Yogyakarta. According to his website, he has written 60 books and runs a “quick-write” course that promises to generate a book manuscript with eight hours of training.

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Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran conducts both online and offline activities, he told VOA. Online, it offers consultations to concerned individuals or facilitates discussion on WhatsApp groups, broadcasts relationship advice on Tuesdays and Fridays by “love writers,” and mounts social media campaigns like #TolakValentineDay (Reject Valentine’s Day). Offline, it distributes books, holds “love seminars” and organizes meetups. Members gain access to official WhatsApp channels if they pay a fee of 170,000 rupiah (about $13).

“Dating only wastes time, energy and money for a moment’s pleasure,” said Munafar. “It’s not for serious relationships or building a house.” Munafar claims the movement gains over 1,000 followers on social media every day.

As an alternative to dating, the group suggests ta’aruf, the Islamic cultural practice of getting to know prospective spouses, usually through family introductions.

A religious officer canes an Acehnese youth onstage as punishment for dating outside marriage, which is against Sharia, or Islamic law, outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aug. 1, 2016. The strictly Muslim province, Aceh has become increasingly conservative in recent years and is the only one in Indonesia implementing Sharia. VOA

Widespread trend

Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran isn’t the only sign of anti-dating sentiment. Other Instagram accounts like @nikahasik (cool marriage) glorify Islamic marriage to 650,000 followers. And there are Twitter accounts like @muliatanpapacaran(nobility without dating) that do the same.

Purwakarta in West Java banned dating in 2015, installing security cameras at public intersections to monitor social interactions.

And last year, conservative politicians proposed banning all extramarital sex. The nation’s highest court has not yet moved forward with discussion on the measure.

Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran has tried to lobby Indonesia’s ulama (religious scholar) council to issue a fatwa against dating, but its members have resisted so far, saying that fatwas ordinarily arise in response to specific incidents.

Child marriage concerns

Indonesia ranks among the 10 countries with the most child brides. By law, girls can marry at age 16, while boys can only marry at 19 with parental permission. But younger girls or couples can often get away on the nikah siri loophole, which refers to marriage performed under Islamic law.

“Overall, the legal loopholes in Indonesia legitimize various forms of child marriage,” said Emilie Minnick, a child protection specialist at UNICEF Indonesia. “Once married through nikah siri, it is extremely easy to then go through formalization of the marriage through the process of isbat, meaning that there is little incentive to go through legal marriage channels. Furthermore, the issue of child marriage in Indonesia is compounded by the fact that many authorities are proceeding on the basis of forged identity documents, which give a false age.”

Child marriage has many negative effects on girls, Minnick said. “Girls who marry before 18 are six times less likely to complete secondary education than girls who marry after 18, poverty makes Indonesian girls four times as likely to be married before age 18 … and globally, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death for girls ages 15 to 19,” she said, citing figures from Indonesia’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

Cultural pressure to skip dating is certainly not the only factor in child marriage. Poverty, cultural norms and lack of social services also play a role. But the movement seems to be symptomatic of the cultural environment that produces the practice. (VOA)


Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

The only constant in life is change itself.

By Devina Kaur

Everything in life is temporary. The only constant in life is change itself. That is a reality that we cannot deny. The beauty of this fact is that it allows us to confront our fears, trust the magic of the moment, and enjoy the precious gift of life. What lasts forever is our true self -- the real you -- the person you were born to be. If you feel stuck, trapped, boring or insecure -- acknowledge yourself, find yourself and who you really are on the inside. Your shiny sexy brilliant self is there. It's been there all along. You just need to unveil it.

It's a very common question to ask: "Who am I?" and it's not an easy question to answer. We might be able to give a definition of ourselves, like professional or student, or that we're introverts or extroverts but this doesn't really represent our true selves. We might also try to describe our best qualities and say that we're kind and smart but again, these qualities only indicate the surface level of who we really are.

Black and white shot of man sitting on night bus through dirty window in Boston It's a very common question to ask: "Who am I?" and it's not an easy question to answer. | Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

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Dia Mirza champions sustainable fashion

Actor and environmental activist, Dia Mirza, who is also the National Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was showstopper for Indian designers Abraham & Thakore at the recently held LFW X FDCI event. The designer duo who are pioneers of slow fashion and sustainability in the Indian fashion landscape showcased a timeless sustainable collection.

IANSlife spoke with Mirza on sustainable choices when it comes to fashion.

Read Excerpts:

Q: Did you enjoy the on-ground fashion event and the energy that came with the physical show and appearance?
A: Yes absolutely. It was just so refreshing and wonderful to finally be back from a virtual audience. Last year we did a digital show and the energy was just not there, this is an interactive experience and we draw so much from real people.

Q: The outfit that was chosen for you, how did it complement your style?
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Dia Mirza is an Indian model, actress, producer, and social worker who predominantly works in Hindi films. Mirza won the title of Miss Asia Pacific International in 2000. IANSlife spoke with Mirza on sustainable choices when it comes to fashion. | Wikimedia Commons

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Delhi to get new QR-based driving livenses and registration certificates.

In a step towards digitisation of the system, Delhi Transport Department will soon issue QR based Smart cards for driving licenses (DLs) and registration certificates (RCs).

As per a statement, the new driving licence will have an advanced microchip with features like Quick Response (QR) code and Near Field Communication (NFC). The new RC will have the owner's name printed on the front while the microchip and the QR code would be embedded at the back of the card.

The cards earlier had embedded chips, but chip reader machines were not available in the required quantity with both the Delhi Traffic Police and the Enforcement Wing of the Transport Department. Moreover, chips were designed and implemented by the states concerned, which resulted in difficulties in reading the chip and retrieving information, especially in case of defaulters.

"Now with the QR based smart card, this issue is resolved. This will enable unification in linking and validating one's information to smart cards with Sarathi and Vahan, the two web-based databases of all driving licenses and vehicle registrations," the release added.

The QR is also being implemented nationwide, the QR code reader is easily procurable and will do away with the requirement of any manual intervention altogether. The new cards will also allow two specific materials for their card manufacturing -- PolyVinyl Chloride or PVC, or PolyCarbonate which is slightly more expensive but more durable. (Card Size - 85.6mm x 54.02 mm; Thickness minimum 0.7 mm)

An October 2018 notification of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had made changes to the Driving License and Registration Certificate. The new Smart card based DL and RC, will have chip based/ QR code based recognition system. At the same time, documents such as driving license or registration certificates in electronic formats on DigiLockers and mParivahan were also made valid in place of physical documents and treated at par with original documents.

The QR code also has an added advantage of acting as a safety feature on the smart card. The department will be able to retain records and penalties of the DL holder for up to 10 years on the VAHAN database as soon as a driver/ owner's Smart card is confiscated. The new DLs will also help the government in maintaining records of differently-abled drivers, any modifications made to the vehicles, emission standards and the person's declaration to donate organs. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, Driving License, Registration License, Digitisation.