Controversial Indonesian dating app AyoPoligami announced on its site that it has temporarily shut down its service for an upgrade, promising its users that it will reopen on October 5.
Launched in early-2017, AyoPoligami described itself as a dating app that “connects male users to female users who are willing to start a ‘big family’ with just one husband.” Or, in other word, a dating app for married men to meet single women with the end goal of getting hitched, in accordance to the sharia way.
Like many other dating apps in the market, it also includes features such as messenger service that allows users to reach out directly to potential dates.
By early September, it has secured 10,000 downloads in Google Play Store.
Ever since its launch, the mobile app has brewed controversy among Indonesian netizens for its heavy promotion of poligamy.
Despite Indonesia being the world’s largest Muslim population, and poligamy being a common practice that is heavily regulated under the Islamic teachings, the app was condemned for facilitating men who wish to find a new wife while still being married.
Under Indonesian state law, a man would be allowed to take a second wife under the condition that the first wife is ill and that she had provided a written consent for the new marriage.
The controversy grew when several netizens decided to go undercover and use the app to understand what it really is about.
Twitter user @adeirra tweeted about receiving “perverted” messages when she was using the app.
“He began by using flirtatious lines such as, ‘Would you like to sleep at the hotel with me?’ Maybe he spread those lines across AyoPoligami female population and awaiting reply,” she wrote, attaching a screenshot image of the conversation.
In her report, Magdalene intern writer Elma Adisya (who had also went undercover as an AyoPoligami user) pointed out that there is no approval mechanism for users to add other users as friends, and to start chatting with them.
She described having been approached by men who asked for her photo and admitted that their wives have no idea that they are using the app. These men cited long distance relationships and their wives’ inability to “match up” their sexual drive as the reasons why they are using the app; one man even asked Adisya if she would be willing to marry him in secret.
“I eventually deleted my account on the second night as I felt nauseated [by what I saw]. This AyoPoligami app, in my opinion, is a platform for men who want to justify their extra-marital affairs by using religious doctrines,” she wrote.
In an interview with Kumparan, AyoPoligami founder Lindu Cipta Pranayama admitted that the app’s model has made it easier for users to abuse it.
“When we first started out AyoPoligami, it was like any other social media platform. So we were positive thinking about it,” he said, indicating that he did not expect the harassment to happen on the AyoPoligami app.
” … I have sinned for letting such things happened on the platform,” he added.
Pranayama then explained that the company is currently developing a user registration system that will oblige new users to provide valid ID card and a moderated chat feature.
Religion as a marketing strategy
Sexism aside, AyoPoligami has also been criticised due to its perceived use of religion as a tool to promote a business.
In 2016, the Global Islamic Economy Report announced that worldwide spending on global halal food and lifestyle products could rise 10.8 per cent a year until 2019, creating an international industry worth US$3.7 trillion.
On August 31, Startupwati (an anonymous Twitter account known for leaking gossips and insights about Indonesian startup community) leaked a screenshot image of a Whatsapp group conversation, allegedly involving Pranayama.
In the conversation, the user named “AyoPoligami.com Lindu” can be seen sharing a link to the Magdalene report with the comment, “Now it has reached 7,000. Commercialisation of religion is kind of cool.”
The report led netizens to speculate that AyoPoligami has knowingly and purposely used religion as a mean to make profit.
Startupwati later tweeted that the user has been “kicked out” from the Whatsapp group.
e27 is reaching out to Pranayama for comments.
Republished with permission from e27.co