June 3, 2021, 07.21 AM

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The debate on polygamy and child marriage continued to rage in Indonesian civil society, and even entered the country’s airwaves.

A civil society group calling itself the Public Coalition Against Sexual Violence or Kompaks urged the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) to take a soap opera called Suara Hati Istri (A Wife’s Conscience) off the air for featuring both practices.

“We urge the KPI to stop broadcasting [of Suara Hati Istri] as it featured a 15 year-old starlet in the role of a third wife of a middle-aged man,” said Kompaks in a press release on Wednesday.

“We regret to see that this soap opera promotes, normalizes and profits polygamy and child marriage under the pretext of phasing out gender based violence. We deplored the featuring of a number of intimate scenes between the two leads.”

Also read: Collective Prevention Needed to Fight Against Child Marriage in Indonesia

Kompaks suggested a number of steps, including "investigating the program and providing protection to the child actor featured [in Suara Hati Istri], whether it be from the effects of filming or the ensuing media coverage.”

Kompaks added that the drama, which featured 15 year-old Lea Ciarachel in the role of Zahra, who is bearing the child of Tirta, who is played by 39 year-old actor Panji Saputra, violated programming standards for TV and radio programs in Indonesia.

“Aside from taking [Suara Hati Istri] off the air, we also urge the KPI to apply penalties on Mega Kreasi Films production house for producing this soap opera as well as the Indosiar TV channel for broadcasting the program,” the group added.

“We also hope that Mega Kreasi Films and Indosiar to account for the soap opera by creating content that will educate the public about the realities of child marriage.”

Also read: Gov't to Broaden Efforts to Fight Child Marriage in Indonesia

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