Muslim Cleric Faces Possible Criminal Charges for Marrying 12-Year-Old Contest Winner
Monday, October 27, 2008
A wealthy Indonesian Muslim cleric faces accusations of having illegal sex with a minor after marrying a 12-year-old girl selected for him through a contest.
Pujiono Cahyo Widianto, a 43-year-old owner of an Islamic boarding school, wed and likely slept with Lutfiana Ulfa in August after she won a contest to become Pujiono’s second wife judged by his first wife, 26, and followers, the Jakarta Post reported.
The girl’s parents admitted that financial difficulties led them to marry their daughter to Pujiono and said the marriage is valid in the eyes of their religion (kawin siri), though not registered with the state, Indonesian Child Protection Commission secretary Hadi Supeno told the Post.
The commission planned to immediately report Pujiono, his first wife and Lutfiana’s parents to the police for a criminal investigation, Hadi told the Post. All could face a maximum of 15 years in jail and a $30,000 fine, for forcing, swindling and/or trading a minor into sex.
Additionally, the commission intends to request an edict forbidding marriages to minors as Pujiono has declared plans to also marry a 7-year-old girl and 9-year-old girl, the Post reported.
“Puji is a community leader who has many followers. If he is allowed to continue doing this, we’re afraid that many other people will follow suit. This will victimize children,” Hadi told the Post.