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Child marriage is prevalent throughout Indonesia, affecting both girls and boys. This project is helping to eradicate the harmful practice of child marriage through raising awareness, changing behaviour and empowering communities with the knowledge and tools needed to resist child marriage.
Statistics from 2008 reveal that 36.6% of Indonesian marriages involve people aged 16 and under.
Indonesia’s Marriage Law (1974) sets the minimum legal age for marriage at 19 for males and 16 for females. However, it is possible and legal to marry before 16 with an official dispensation from the Religious Court or a government officer – a practice that contradicts the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which defines child marriage as the marriage of those under 18.
Recognising that child marriage is a complex and culturally ingrained issue, Plan aims to reduce incidence of child marriage and enhance gender equality at the local community level in Indonesia. This is being achieved through helping people understand the risks and negative impacts of child marriage, and through linking the project with district and national level government policy changes.
To date, we have conducted research into the causes and implications of child marriage and examined the existing legal framework and local government initiatives to prevent and deal with child marriage cases. We have also organised a range of awareness raising and behavior change programs in local communities in the districts of Dompu and Grobogan, working with village officials, children’s councils, local secondary schools and local community-based organisations.
After meeting on recording and reporting of child marriage cases that was conducted by Plan Indonesia Dompu district in June 2012, the newly elected village chief of Tembalae, Amir, committed to not falsify the age of couples who want to get married. His commitment was followed by the entire village officials of Tembalae.
Just a few months after this village chief started his term (and after attending Plan’s training), he faced a few temptations to falsify the age of children whose parents wanted them to get married. He refused to do so and directed people to ask for dispensation to the District Religious Court (a required step of case escalation to a more senior government institution).
As a result, from March to September 2012 there were two cases of child marriage that have been proposed for dispensation to District Religious Court of Dompu. This is a great step forward in changing local practices, because previously village officials would practice age falsification.
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