JAKARTA: Indonesia’s parliament voted unanimously in plenary session on 16 September to revise the country’s marriage law, raising the minimum marriage age for women from 16 to 19.
Supporters of the measure welcome the decision, describing it as a step forward in the fight against child marriages (perkawinan dini), a major issue in the world’s most populous Islamic country.
Each year, one in six Indonesian girls, some 340,000 in all, is married off before the age of 18. A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) drafted in cooperation with Indonesia’s National Statistics Agency (Badan Pusat Statistik, BPS) ranks the country 37th in the world for child marriages, second in South East Asia to Cambodia. However, the Girls Not Brides advocacy group puts Indonesia in the top ten countries in the world for child brides.
Under the 1974 Marriage Law, the minimum age for women to marry was 16 and 19 for men. However, the 2002 Child Protection Law defines children as anyone under the age of 18.