HEADLINES

World: Indonesia Swims Against Tide on Child Marriage

By Heather Barr. (July 19, 2015) First Appeared in The Jakarta Global.

Indonesia's Child Brides: Girls who marry at a young age are unlikely to stay in school, and more likely to live in poverty.

In recent years, one of the bright spots on women’s rights globally has been growing awareness of how harmful child marriage is — and increasing efforts by countries around the world to end it. Sadly, not in Indonesia.

The Constitutional Court missed a chance last month to help the millions – yes, millions – of Indonesian girls who are marrying as children, under the age of 18.

Indonesia’s 1974 Marriage Law permits women and men to marry as they choose once they reach 21, but allows girls to marry at 16 with parental permission.

Boys must wait until they are 19 to marry with parental permission.

Because a large proportion of marriages in Indonesia are arranged by parents, the parental permission exception doesn’t protect girls, but instead establishes the age at which many are forced to marry. According to Unicef, 17 percent of girls in Indonesia are married before they reach 18. Three percent of girls marry before 15.

Six Indonesian women’s rights activists — Indri Oktaviani, Yohana Tantiana, Dini Anitasari, Sa’baniah, Hidayatut Thoyyibah, Ramadhaniati — along with the Children Human Rights Foundation (YPHA) asked the court to rule that no girl could marry before 18. They argued that the law violates rights guaranteed by the Indonesian constitution, discriminates against women and violates Indonesia’s international obligations.

  • In an 8-to-1 vote, the judges rejected the petition, upholding the 1974 Marriage Law’s provisions on age. They wrote that there “was no guarantee that with increasing the age from 16 to 18 there will be a reduction of divorce rates, health improvements and reduction of other social problems.”

There is overwhelming evidence that child marriage has devastating consequences for girls.

Such unions often result in early pregnancy, which carries serious health risks — including death — for both mothers and babies. Married girls are unlikely to stay in school, and more likely to live in poverty. They’re also more likely than women who marry at a later age to face domestic violence.

The court’s ruling should not be the end of this story.

Indonesia is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under these core human rights conventions, Indonesia is legally obligated to protect the rights of girls and women, including the right to be free from discrimination, to the highest attainable standard of health, to education, to free and full consent to marriage, to choose one’s spouse, and to be free from physical, mental, and sexual violence.

The current marriage law violates these rights.

Yohama Yembise, the minister of women’s empowerment and child protection in the government of President Joko Widodo, has spoken out against the court’s ruling. Her ministry should work with activists to draft legislation to reform the 1974 Marriage Law, setting 18 as the minimum age of marriage. The president should support this reform.

Indonesia’s House of Representatives should also get involved in this important issue and support administration reforms setting the age of marriage at 18. But if Joko’s government proves unwilling to act, the House should take the lead.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling should not be seen as a defeat for ending child marriage in Indonesia. Instead, it should galvanize the Joko government, the House and Indonesian activists to work together not only to change the law, but to change public thinking about how best to protect Indonesia’s girls.

🔝

Heather Barr is a senior researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch.

The Jakarta Global: Indonesia Swims Against Tide on Child Marriage.

Click Picture for a Popular Article

  • A question I have been asked many times since I began covering the humanitarian crisis in Yemen; who is taking care of the war orphans in Yemen? It appears the world has forgotten them, perhaps because they are not considered refugee orphans, nobody is paying attention to the gross crimes against these little ones - committed at the hands of an invading regime - Saudi Arabia.. children isleep nside a pitt in the ground, it is now normal for adults to put children to sleep in a large hole to ptotect child from snipers andcluster bombs that spray shrapnel Yemen.
  • The month is also a time of community; it is the custom for Muslims to invite their neighbours and friends to share their evening meal – iftar – and recite special Tarawih prayers in congregation. It is also a time when Muslims try to reconnect with the Qur’an, which they believe is the word of God. However, Children, people who are sick or who have mental illness, elderly people for example do not have to fast.
  • Flag_of_Saudi_Arabia.
  • Painted on the side of a building in Bristol, southwest England - home of the celebrated graffiti artist Banksy - the image reprises a 1979 photograph of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker kissing, which was later turned into a mural on the Berlin Wall. It was commissioned by pro-EU campaign group "We are Europe" as what they call a warning of things to come if Britons vote to leave the 28-member bloc on June 23, as advocated by both Johnson and Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate in November's U.S. presidential election. Johnson is the "Out" campaign's best-known leader and Trump has said Britain would be "better off without" the EU, which he has blamed for Europe's migration crisis.
  • Faces of the women who had their lives cut short by Pickton.
  • Mona Relief Delivering Lifesaving Food, clothing, blankets and medicine to villages dying under the siege of Saudi War on Yemen. (Photo: Mona Relief) alistairreignblog.com
  • And now - a country with more than 10,000 people killed in the ensuing violence, over 10,000 more died of starvation under the blockade of humanitarian aid and supplies - the Middle East’s poorest nation, Yemen is reduced to the brink of famine.
  • ery same government who deliberately allowed this occupation to take place last fall. Regardless of what is happening with a possible injunction application, I urge every person to call the Premier’s office in the morning, telling her she has to get her administration working overtime to get rid of tent city and under no circumstances to move this horror story a block away into Mt. Edwards where we’ll then have a PERMANENT tent city indoors, with all the same shit going on every day and night!
  • The Canadian Delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, May 1945. (Photo: Public Domain). (Alistair Reign News Blog www.AlistairReignBlog.com).
  • Mona Relief Charity on Go Fund Me makes it easy and safe to donate. No amount is too small, or too large.
  • Documentary: Part One - A Year In Space With Scott Kelly

Click Picture for a Popular Cartoon

  • Who is PM Stephen Harper
  • What if Donald Trump is elected President of the United States?
  • Includes Meryl Streep's full Golden Globe speech, a peek at her stage performance where she play Donald Trump, SAG Speeches: Ashton Kutcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman, Lily Tomlin and others, as well as talk show host's comments and interviews. Tied together with indie music and skits of Peter Griffin of Family Guy playing Donald Trump.
  • GOP Caption winner first place on AlistairReignBlog.com
  • Donald Trump and a Cheshire cat have the same smug smile.
  • Way-back Machine: Who Vogue'd It Best? Take our poll at Alistair Reign News Blog: AlistairReignBlog.com
  • Way-Back Machine: Who Owned It Best? Come on in and pick out your favorite Dracula cape! Who flaunted the full-length cape better than the rest?
  • Putin Pumpkin Head
  • What Donald Would Do!
  • Comic Strip: Terror News with Chuck. (Alistair Reign News Blog - Comic Strips: www.AlistairReignBlog.com).