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Child Marriage in NTB is Alarming

Mataram, 17 December 2018. "My friends usually call me Liza.  I am from Jerowaru District, East Lombok District. I married for the first time at the age of 15, when I was still in junior high school. My husband was in the third grade of senior high school in my hometown.  I stopped school after marriage. Unfortunately, my marriage lasted only three months. Not long after divorce, I married again with a boy who was still in the second grade of Islamic High School.  The second marriage did not last long either and I divorced again.  Now, I am 17, already married twice, but failed to establish a family. I also cannot continue my school, even though I really want to. I am embarrassed to continue my education."

Liza is not alone. More than 31% of girls aged 19-24 married before the age of 18 in West Nusa Tenggara – Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB), much higher than the national average of 23% in 2015. Indonesia is the seven biggest contribution to the world child marriage figure to date. “Child marriage in NTB is an emergency situation. We should stop it. The Parliament needs to revise the marriage law soon”, said Ermalena, Vice Chairperson of Commission IX DPR, who is also the Executive Director of Indonesian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development – IFPPD.
Data shows that child marriage has negative impacts on education, health, labor force and economy of girls.  Most of girls married before the age of 18 stopped their education, and consequently reduced their labor force participation, and their economic opportunity. Child marriage, which is followed by child pregnancy, contributes to the high maternal mortality ratio. In addition, child marriage also is prone to violence against women. “Boys and girls should be provided with information on the dangers of child marriage”, said Mr. Khaerullah, a local ulama in Mataram. “It is among the tasks of local Muslim religious leaders to convey these dangers to the boys, girls, and also parents”, added Mr. Khairusaleh.
The negative impacts of child marriage not only happen to girls and their families, but also to the community as a whole. “If we cannot stop child marriage, I am afraid that we cannot achieve NTB Gemilang – NTB Bright, our ultimate goal”, said Dr. Makripuddin, Chaperson of BKKBN of NTB.
Child marriage is usually influenced by religious and cultural values. “The prevention of child marriage should be comprehensive, involving not only boys and girls, parents, educators, but also local formal leaders and informal leaders, including Muslim religious leaders”, said Mr. Samidjo, Advocacy/Communication Analyst of UNFPA Indonesia.
UNFPA Indonesia supports Indonesian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (IFPPD), BKKBN, Office of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, PKBI, and youth networks to advocate ending of child marriage in West Nusa Tenggara.