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Native Court accepts 16 as marrying age
Published on: Thursday, October 18, 2018

Penampang: Marriageable age according to Adat is at puberty. However with progress and education, this custom has slowly been discarded and now the Native Courts adopts the age recognised by the government which is 16.

District Chief Bryan Matasing Lojingon said this at a half-day seminar jointly organised by the Department of Women's Affair and the District Office here, on the Rights of Women in Accordance with the Law.

Matasing was quick to add that this has been a hotly debated topic but he left the issue for the following expert speakers to address as his topic is only on marriages and divorces according to the Adat.

He said marriage follows three stages the first being "Monoluku" roughly translated in Malay as "merisik". It is an introduction where the male accompanied by family members pay a visit to the lady's family with their wish or proposal to take their daughter as a wife.

If both families agree then a date is set for the engagement process to take place.


During the engagement, man and entourage visit the proposed fiancee's house to discuss "sogit" (in this case dowry including in what form), expenses and setting the date and venue of wedding.

This must be supervised by a village head, Matasing said. He also emphasised that the as per Penampang Native Court the period of engagement is only for one year after which the village chief will call both parties to find out why the wedding was not carried out. If the reasons are acceptable the village chief will allow another year's extension, after which the engagement will automatically be null and void.

If everything goes well, the couple together with the village chief will have to come to the court to get their wedding certificate which is recognised by the Church for blessings if the natives are also Christians.

Regarding divorces, Matasing emphasised that this is not what the Adat wants but is allowed due to circumstances. He reminded that those who registered their marriage with the National Registration Department (NRD) cannot apply for divorce at the Native Court, but only those registered in the Court itself.


Divorce processes also have three stages. The divorce is initiated with a complaint lodged that they have a family problem and wish to separate. The court will set a time for counselling to try and solve the problem to prevent the divorce.

If counselling fails, they are given a cooling off period between 3 to 6 months in the second stage. Matasing said the divorce process is a last resort when the first two stages failed to solve the marital problems and this is where the topic of women's rights comes in.

The main issue is properties where the term "hak sepencarian" or acquired properties obtained during the period of marriage where the ex-wife would have an equal share.

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