Indonesia introduces law prohibiting intimacy before marriage

Anyone found cohabiting before marriage is to be jailed for 12 months

Indonesia has made official a new criminal law that involves the prohibition of sex outside marriage and cohabitation.

Sex outside marriage will carry a potential one-year prison term.The parents of children who are cohabiting before marriage have the authority to report them.

In regard to this new law, there are restrictions on who can lodge a formal complaint.

The law was passed to teach a lesson to critics who could undermine the freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation.

Apart from the new law banning cohabitation before marriage, the law also prohibits apostasy.

It also provides punishments for insulting the president or expressing views counter to the national ideology.

Indonesia has seen a rise in religious conservatism in recent years.

In this country, only six religions are recognized by the government: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Confucianism and Roman Catholicism.

Strict Islamic laws are already enforced in parts of the country, including the semi-autonomous Aceh province, where alcohol and gambling are banned.

Public floggings also take place in the region for a range of offences such as homosexuality and adultery.

The new code does not only apply to Indonesian citizens, but also applies to foreign residents and tourists.

On following the incidents that occurred after the passing of the new criminal code, a suspected Islamist militant, angered by the new criminal code, killed one other person and wounded at least 10 people in a suicide bomb attack at a police station in the city of Bandung, Indonesia.

Changes to the criminal code have not only alarmed human rights advocates, who warned of their potential to stifle personal freedoms, but also travel industry representatives, who now more than ever are worried about their potential effect the law will impact on the tourism sector.

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