Outrage after Indonesian official divorces teenage bride

Protesters burn portraits of Garut District Chief Aceng Fikri during a protest in the town of Garut, West Java, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. Protesters burned portraits of the district chief

An Indonesian official is facing calls for his resignation after it emerged he divorced a teenager by text message following four days of marriage.

Aceng Fikri, the elected head of Garut in West Java province, has publicly apologised amid the outcry. Hundreds protested against him on Tuesday.

Mr Fikri, 40, is married with three children and took the 17-year-old as his second wife in a Muslim ceremony.

He divorced her after reportedly discovering she was not a virgin.

"I would like to apologise to the public if women feel harassed, even though I didn't mean to harass anyone," Mr Fikri said.

He added that he was sorry "even though what I did was appropriately based on Shariah [law]".

Although not recognised in Indonesian law, unrecorded marriages, including religious ones, are common in the country. The marriage law says that women who are 16 can marry.

Fani Octora was 17 years old and still in high school when she married Mr Fikri in a Muslim ceremony in July that was not officially registered, correspondents say.

Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 photo, Garut District Chief Aceng Fikri is surrounded by the press in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Mr Fikri says wife "didn't meet the specifications"

She reported him to local police on Monday, accusing him of domestic violence.

Mr Fikri told local media that Ms Octora was not a virgin and "doesn't meet the promised specifications so I sent her back".

He also says she signed an agreement to keep her silence on the matter and he paid her 40 million rupiah ($4,200, £2,600).

Protesters gathered at the Garut municipal building on Tuesday to demand Mr Fikri's removal from office, saying his actions were disrespectful of women.

Correspondents say there is no indication that the police will charge him.

Under local laws, the elected leader of a region can be sacked only under a complicated process that can take up to two months.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to look into the case.

More on This Story

More Asia stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ReadingBest books

    BBC Culture takes a look at ten books you should read in February


  • A car being driven by Cruise Automation technologyClick Watch

    The tech which could allow any car with an automatic gearbox to become self-driving

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.