Dozens of girls attended an event to commemorate International Day of the Girl Child in Jakarta on Tuesday (11/10), where they demanded that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issues a regulation in lieu of law, or perppu, to prevent child marriage in Indonesia. Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise has taken the demand into consideration as the number of child marriages in Indonesia is still worryingly high.
Research from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), shows that according to Indonesia’s 2012 Demographic and Health Survey (SDKI), at least 340,000 girls below the age of 18 years were married. Many of them got married when they were only 15 years old.
The survey also showed that child marriages mostly occurred in rural areas. According to the 2012 Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) cited in the same research, 29.2 percent of married girls below the age of 18 lived in rural areas, while 19 percent lived in cities.
Yohana said, with the condition of children in Indonesia nowadays, this regulation in lieu of law will help to prevent child marriage in Indonesia. The minister added that there are negative consequences for girls forced into marriage because their reproductive systems are not fully developed yet. As a result, many die during childbirth.
Most children who marry at a young age eventually also drop out of school, leaving them uneducated and often unemployed. They might also not be emotionally and socially ready for marriage, which sometimes results in divorce or domestic violence. Yohana added, allowing child marriage is the same as killing the girl’s future.
Unicef estimates the number of women married in childhood across the globe will grow from 700 million currently to around 950 million by 2030.