New York, NY- Hundreds of Indonesians gathered in Garut to demand the resignation of their district chief after he divorced his teen bride through text message just four days after they were married. While you can’t get a divorce by text in the U.S., technology has impacted how divorces are settled in court?
Aceng Fikri, 40, who acts as the district chief of Garut located in West Java, had already sparked controversy in July when he wed 17 year-old Fani Oktara, because he was already married with children. Though Islamic law allows men to practice polygamy, strict rules which apply to Indonesia civil servants forbids them from taking a second spouse, CNN reported.
Fikri alleged that his young bride was not a virgin as she said so he initiated the divorce. Oktara denied his allegations and further accused him of defaming her character.
Although, the text divorce happened just four days after their July wedding – Sharia law allows men to divorce their wives by written request—the story came into the spotlight after a wedding photo of the couple appeared online at by Oktara and her family who are angered that Fikri refused to apologize about the incident, the Washington Post reported.
Since Fikri did not legally register his marriage Oktara, protestors gathered in Garut demanding he resign and be charged with fraud. An official request for his dismissal has been filed but the final decison must wait on Indonesia’s Supreme Court.
This incident shows how much of an impact technology can have; it facilitated a highly unusual way to divorce someone, and later helped the story spread, inciting protests that garnered international attention.
While it’s doubtful that the U.S. will ever allow a person to obtain a divorce simply through a text, technology or more precisely the internet and social media have affected the way divorce cases are handled, and the final outcome in numerous cases. Cleaver entrepreneurs have even developed an app to help divorced couples navigate the complicated and frequently frenetic realm of child custody.
Recent divorce cases have once again ignited a debate about the internet and privacy. Divorce lawyers have been increasingly utilizing information from social media sites like Facebook to gather evidence and further bolster their cases which in turn can result in a better settlement for their clients.
This privacy debate isn’t centered on whether it is appropriate to gather this evidence over the internet. Almost everyone should be aware by now that nothing is private when it’s on the internet. Rather, the controversy lies in how some of that evidence is gathered.
When Catherine Zang and her husband split he left, but not before he had internet tracking software installed on her computer, set up hidden cameras and concealed multiple microphones to listen to her phone conversations.
Joseph Zang knew his estranged wife was having an ongoing affair with a man over the internet—Catherine had actually never met Javier Luis in person—so he began to watch her every move, with the intention of painting her in an unflattering light.
Catherine discovered her husband was spying when private internet and phone conversations came up in court. She and Javier Luis subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging that Joseph Zang, the spyware manufacturers, and the software developers violated their rights to privacy.
In several divorce cases over the past few years, judges have required estranged couples to swap Facebook passwords and ordered couples to release private text messages to attorneys for the purpose of gathering evidence.
Since we live in a technology-driven world it is likely that the issue of internet privacy and divorce will continue to be a much debated subject. It’s important for people to remember that nothing will ever be truly private on the World Wide Web.