Indonesian man accused of having sex with his wife’s mother threatens to sue for defamation

By: The Straits Times / Asia News Network - Inquirer.net | February 12,2023 - 06:42 PM

JAKARTA – An Indonesian man accused of having sex with his wife’s mother has now threatened to sue for defamation after his wife divulged details of the alleged affair on social media.

Nov 15, 2022 was a day Ms Norma Rismala, 21, said she will not forget for the rest of her life. A young wife, she had been married to Mr Rozi Jay Hakiki, also 21, for less than two years.

Her cousin called her around noon while she was at work as a customer service officer for an online store, urging her to return to her home in Serang, Banten, about 90km from Jakarta.

Suspicious neighbors had stormed the couple’s rented house and found Mr Rozi there with Ms Norma’s mother, Mrs Rihanah Anah, who was naked. Mr Rozi apparently fled when the neighbors entered the home, while Mrs Rihanah grabbed her clothes.

The young couple, who were married in April 2021 and are now divorced, had a sideline running a chicken noodle shop about a block from their rented house.

According to Ms Norma’s account of the incident on social media, their neighbors had noticed Mr Rozi shutting the shop early that day. He walked back to their rented house, followed shortly by his mother-in-law.

Mrs Rihanah, in her 40s, denied that anything untoward happened with her son-in-law, saying she had taken off her prayer garments to enjoy the air-conditioning, as it was hot outside.

The incident sparked an uproar in the neighborhood, and the head of the neighborhood community later stepped in to mediate between the families of the couple and reach a settlement.

Ms Norma received compensation of 50 million rupiah (S$4,400) for her distress. This also covered a 16cm-long scratch and a bruise on her arm inflicted by her husband, for which she could have filed a domestic violence police report.

That appeared to have settled the matter, until Mr Rozi’s family realized that Ms Norma had recounted the incident on TikTok, drawing several million views.

“After I got married, I no longer went out with friends. I was always with him when I spent my spare time. He was half of my world. I did think about canceling a divorce even after that incident, but I didn’t sense he wanted to preserve our marriage,” she had said in her video.

She said she did not expect her video to go viral, and was merely expressing her grief on social media.

“I got countless responses. One netizen compared my story to a TV soap opera. Some of them thought I made up the story,” Ms Norma said in an interview with popular Jakarta-based YouTube podcaster Denny Sumargo, which drew an even larger audience, with 23 million views.

Mr Rozi’s lawyer, Mr Jumadi, who goes by one name, said in January that Ms Norma’s claims in both videos were untrue.

“It’s all a misunderstanding. If they committed adultery, show us the proof,” Mr Jumadi told reporters after he filed a police complaint against Ms Norma for defamation, which carries a punishment of up to six years’ jail and/or a fine of 1 billion rupiah.

A lawyer representing Ms Norma said she may file a counter-suit against Mr Rozi for adultery, an offense punishable by jail.

Meanwhile, screengrabs of text messages to Ms Norma from her mother have also gone viral. In them, Mrs Rihanah begs her daughter to forgive her, saying the shame from the scandal was unbearable.

“If I could choose to die, I would rather die to make you happy. I cannot stand this any more. You are my only child,” she said.

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