IO – Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Perlindungan Anak – “PPPA”) I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati Puspayoga admits that reports of child marriage have increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a vicious circle, wherein the pandemic causes children to miss school and get pushed into child marriage, which i n turn increases the number of children who drop out of school.
The Indonesian Religious Courts report that 34,000 requests for dispensation to marry for brides and grooms younger than 19 years of age have been submitted from January to June 2020. “This is a grave concern for us all. We need to step up efforts to prevent child marriage,” she said.
Bintang requests that everyone helps with the socialization to prevent and eliminate child marriage, as the Ministry of PPPA cannot deal with such a complex issue by itself. The reduction of child marriage rates is a priority issue for the Ministry in its 2020-2024 term. “We can only achieve this objective with full cooperation between the Central Government, Regional Government, community institutions, the business world, and the people themselves, in this case schools and families, to socialize the importance of preventing child marriage,” she said in the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (Komisi Perlindungan Anak Indonesia – “KPAI”) Coordination Meeting themed “Observation Results of Face-to-Face Learning Preparation during the Pandemic” held on Monday (30/11/2020).
Bintang reiterated that the Government is committed to protect Indonesian children’s right to learn during the pandemic while still prioritizing the children’s health and safety, whether they learn faceto- face or remotely. Therefore, she reminds parents that students can still learn via the internet. “No, there is no such obligation. Parents will not be forced to send their children to school if they are worried and uncomfortable with the risks. Online learning is still allowed,” she said.
Earlier, the Coordinating Ministry of Human Development and Cultural Affair’s Expert Staff in Sustainable Development, Ghafur Akbar Dharmaputra, has expressed his concern over the fact that child marriage is on the rise recently. “Child marriage causes many problems, including stunting of children born from such marriage, neglect, household violence, and poverty, because the parents are too young and unready for such heavy responsibilities. Therefore, child marriages should be stopped no matter what,” he said.
Furthermore, the Government has the target of reducing the stunting rate among growing children, from 27% to 14% by 2024. Therefore, it is also preparing the Pre-Marital Guidance Program to help train people who wish to marry in the intricacies of managing family health, emotional, religious, and financial aspects. “One of the reasons for child marriage is weak family security. This program is a means to strengthen family security, which is the basis of all human lives. Family security is not just about the surface ‘endurance’ of the marriage or lack of divorce, but it is about the physical, emotional, and mental welfare of the family members themselves,” he said. (Dan)