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

  • The remnants of a US drone strike on August 29, 2012 in Khashamir, Yemen. The strike killed three alleged members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a policeman, and a cleric who preached against the armed group.
  • Ray Rivera, left, a DJ at Pulse Orlando nightclub, is consoled by a friend, outside of the Orlando Police Department after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at the nightclub, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
  • UNICEF estimates nearly 400 children have been killed and over 600 injured in the past four months in the country, the poorest in the Middle East. 13 Yemeni teaching staff and four children were killed by a Saudi air strike on August 20. Two days before, coalition bombing in the Amran province took the lives of 17 civilians, injuring 20 more. UNICEF condemned what it called the “senseless bloodshed.” A Red Cross spokeswoman said the violence in Ta’iz, in southern Yemen, in just one day on August 21 left 80 people dead.
  • Many children in the street killed from a Saudi-led airstrike on a Yemen refugee camp.
  • The Liberals are on the defensive after court documents released earlier this month revealed that Mr. Dion, not Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, signed the export permits to allow seventy-percent (70%) of the transaction to ship to Saudi Arabia. Many observers had assumed the Conservatives had granted export permits when they signed the deal. trudeau speaking"The Liberal signature on the export permits means that the Liberal government has taken full ownership of a decision to sell arms to a country notorious for human-rights abuses.
  • Mona Relief has become a lifeline to the Yemeni families they reach; delivering more than physical aid, they bring with them a glimmer of hope; a reassurance that Yemen is not forgotten.
  • A Palestinian girl and women figth to free a Palestinian boy (bottom) held by an Israeli soldier (C) during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters following a march against Palestinian land confiscation to expand the nearby Jewish Hallamish settlement on August 28, 2015 in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI
  • Codepink protesters outside the NRA headquarters, Fairfax, Virginia June 19, 2016. (Photo: CODEPINK).
  • The teenager, Nihad Barakat Shamo Alawsi, was taken to Syria and then to the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul in northern Iraq, she told an event in London on Wednesday. "They raped us, they killed our men, they took our babies away from us," Alawsi, now 17, said at the event organised by the UK-based AMAR Foundation, a charity that provides education and healthcare in the Middle East.

Click Picture for a Popular Cartoon

  • Where's Steve - Satire Cartoon
  • Donald Trump will save the day
  • Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled files stolen from Iran,
  • What Donald Would Do!
  • Donald Trump for President
  • Trump Trudeau State Dinner.
  • Satire: USA Denies Whites Can Be Terrorist
  • Donald Trump and a Cheshire cat have the same smug smile.
  • When cartoons turn into people
  • The moment Bruce Jenner realized he was a woman
  • 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.

Start a Conversation or Write a Caption This joke.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.