Scarcity of Marriage Certificate

KOMPAS, Jakarta – This past few weeks have been noted by the scarcity of marriage certificate available. The Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, Agung Laksono, responded to this by stating that this was due to an increasing amount of people who are getting married, while the Minister of Religion, Suryadharma Ali stated that it was due to distribution-related problems.

That statement was obviously groundless. The scarcity of marriage certificate is not a new thing in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and this may indicate problems arising within the ministry.

From the statements of the top officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) to the media, this stems from the delay in the budget approval, which culminated in the late execution of tenders for printing and delivery. Up to this point, MORA can shrug and claim that the problem was caused by other institutions, in this case, the DPR (House of Representatives) origins problems in other institutions, in this case the new parliament who only begins to approve the budgets in July.

Between government officials there is one term “hostage by asterisk”, which means a budget submission is not immediately approved, but contains many asterisk signs from the reviewer, indicating the budget submitted contains items that are questionable and need correction. Flagging asterisks to budget items actually shows the government’s intention of creating a clean government.

However, the process of aborting the asterisks is another thing which in it lags behind potential corruption. Reflecting on corruption printing of the Koran, we can trace the collusion between the executive (MORA) and legislative (Golkar elements), which turned out to be the partner printing of the Koran. Would people will use the same logic and apply it to the marriage certificate printing tender and distribution that causes all of them to be delivered too late?

Regardless, this problem is not merely administration carelessness, but the picture of how chaotic the state administration in fulfilling the rights of citizens. In this case, a suspicion of a waging “war of the asterisks” emerges, where the chaos caused by people demanding to get their marriage certificate is used as a weapon to press the government, not to question the budget proposed and to immediately approves the budget. On the other side, this also can be used to press opposing party that the asterisks are not that easy to be omitted without a certain reward. At the end, the war of the asterisks has hold people’s interest in hostage.

The scarcity of marriage book is not something new. As can be seen in the statistics of the request for marriage legitimation (isbat) in Islamic court. Marriage legitimation, in KHI (Kompilasi Hukum Islam – Islamic Law Compilation), is regulated not only to legitimize marriages happening before year 1974, the year when the Law on Marriages was published, but also for those who lost their marriage documents. The direct impact of the lack of marriage certificate: the marriage has no legal legitimation (KHI article 7) and the children resulted from the marriage may considered as having no civil relationship with his biological father. Data from 2010 Susenas (National Socioeconomic Survey) showed that 35% of Indonesian children has no birth certificate. In fact, according to survey by PEKKA (Women Headed Household Empowerment), in areas such as Adonara islands in East Nusa Tenggara, 67 percent of people do not have one of the three documents relating to the legality of the law: marriage certificate, birth certificates and divorce certificates.

Bappenas (National Development Planning Agency) and MA (The Supreme Court) with the ranks of other legal instruments are trying to overcome this problem by organizing the circuit court for issuing determination of the children as result of marriages, so that civil office can issue a birth certificate for them. The issuance of The Supreme Court Circular Letter (SEMA) Number 6 Year 2012 on Guidelines for the Determination of Birth Registration Beyond One Year Time, collectively has made it easier for the public to own a birth certificate. Based on the SEMA, parents no longer have to earn their marriage determination through the circular courts or isbat, they only have to fulfill the requirements to prove that their children were born from the parents who submitted birth certificate request.

In some areas, the PEKKA survey showed that there were many couples who do not own marriage certificates not because they conducted illegal marriages but because of the absence of the State. During the Aceh conflicts period, marriages are held with the absence of KUA (Office of Religious Affairs) officials. Or, many couples have paid for the marriage certificate, but they did not receive anything in return. When the couples came to the office to pick the marriage certificate, they were asked for extra costs for the nonpermanent employees of the office. The policy states that the Ministry of Religious Affairs asks KUA to deliver the certificate. However, this is not what really happens in reality, especially in regional areas, couples need to pick up the book themselves, and cost them extra fee to pay. This is shameful considering that the Ministry of Religious Affairs is the only ministry granted with the biggest budget allocations, increasing from Rp14.9 trillion in 2008 to Rp45.4 trillion in 2013.

Together with the Director General of Religious Courts, I have attended several circular courts held by the sub-district government offices, registry office, district court and the PEKKA NGO before SEMA Number 6/2012 was issued. The Justice for the Poor program by BAPPENAS really helped impoverished people receive their legal certainty. Children can enroll primary schools without being rejected because they have no birth certificate. People can apply for passports to work overseas, etc., and what is more important, their existence was acknowledged by the state.

The scarcity of marriage certificates is not simply a matter of administration issues. We cannot only point our finger to MORA, but also to other institutions. The marriage certificate scarcity reminds us that clean governance without focusing the perspective to the impoverished people, will only make the people, especially poor ones, being held hostage.

*Lies Marcoes