Contract marriages is not a new trend here in Indonesia. Since the furniture business reached its peak around 5-7 years ago in one small town close to Semarang my hometown, many local people have done that. The foreigners who have the money marry local women to have such a business. This local “wife” will make their business run more easily when dealing with the local government. When they think that the business is not longer fruitful for them, they can just close the business, “divorce” their wife and go back to their countries.
Some parties get benefit from such business. First, the foreigners—they get much profit from this business. Second, the local women—from being poor, suddenly they become the “owner” of a business. When their “husband” is back to the native country, usually these women already have enough capital to start their own business, or, well, as the deposit for their future without having to work hard anymore as long as they can manage the money wisely. Third, the local government—the income resulted from this business of course supports the development of the area—e.g. the infrastructure. Fourth, the local people who get jobs to work in such companies also those who can open other kinds of business to fulfill the need of the furniture companies, such as cyber cafes, until hotels, restaurants, tourist resorts when the foreigners come to visit their business.
Some years ago, I read an information about the practice of a bit similar contract marriage that happned in East Java. One village is popularly known as a place where the women are available for such marriage. Many men go to that place to look for a kind of woman they want to “marry” as the second or third or nth wife. Those men usually already have their “formal” wife in their original place and they visit their “secret” wife only once a week. Although “secret”, the marriage is done “properly” following the “rules”—the men pay the dowry, there is an “Ulema” who marries them in Islamic way and also some people to witness the wedding matrimony. One case I read about a smart woman is that at the same time she can have four secret husbands that visit her at different time. After having some husbands, she no longer needs to work hard to earn her living. The four husbands absolutely don’t know that this woman “smartly” makes use of them.
In the case of the short contract marriage among the Arabian tourists and Indonesian women, some people get benefits too of course, including the women involved. However, oftentimes these women are just made use by the bureaus, they get much money from the tourists but they don’t give the women as much as they deserve. These women must learn to be “tricky” as the woman I mention in the above paragraph.
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