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MediaClipings :End child marriage for healthy, prosperous lives: Activists

End child marriage for healthy, prosperous lives: Activists

Elly Burhaini Faizal,, Jakarta | National | Sun, November 01 2015, 4:38 PM
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Changing a traditional practice like child marriage may seem daunting, especially when such marriages are considered acceptable in a group or society. However, that is the aim of activists from Indonesian family planning and reproductive health civil groups.

Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI) executive director Chatarina Wahyurini has taken on the challenge of eliminating the practice in Indonesia, a country with a relatively high prevalence of child marriage, where young girls may be offered for marriage to settle economic difficulties in their families.

“It is our goal to continue to build public awareness of the dangers of child marriage. We are striving to build common commitments with related parties to save our children from early marriages,” Chatarina said at a recent journalists’ workshop on family planning and reproductive health, held by the PKBI with support from the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).

The PKBI is part of the Indonesian Coalition to End Child Marriage (Koalisi 18+), a social movement that aims to stop child marriage and forced marriage of young people. In its latest move, Koalisi 18+ filed a judicial review against Law No. 1/1974 on marriage, specifically Article 7 (1), which sets the minimum age of marriage for females at 16.

In a hearing on June 18, the Constitutional Court rejected the review, saying there was no guarantee that increasing the minimum age of marriage to 18 years would reduce divorce cases, alleviate health problems or minimize other social problems affecting women. The court’s rejection led to a public outcry.
“Early marriage leads to girls dropping out of school, impeding their hopes to live happier and more prosperous lives. Child marriage also has many effects on girls’ reproductive health, in which they may suffer dangerous complications during pregnancy and childbirth,” Chatarina said.

According to data from UNICEF Indonesia, one in six young people in Indonesia is married before the age of 18, totaling 340,000 every year. Meanwhile, 50,000 girls are married before they are 15 years old.
Chatarina said the practice would likely burden Indonesia’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which target a decline in the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

The activist said the goal would be difficult to achieve as Indonesia’s maternal mortality rate currently stands at 359 per 100,000 live births.
“Could we reduce our maternal mortality rate to fewer than 70 per 100,000 live births? This goal is too ambitious, I think. Still, it is possible for us to achieve it if we all can move together,” Chatarina said.
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