KSI Interview with Lies Marcoes: GESI Perspective in Research for Development

Lies Marcoes Natsir is one of Indonesia’s foremost experts in Islam and gender. She has played a pioneering role in the Indonesian gender equality movement by bridging the divide between Muslim and secular feminists and encouraging feminists to work within Islam to promote gender equality. Lies is a passionate and talented trainer – frequently used by KSI and other DFAT programs – and has used these skills to change people’s attitudes to the status of women in Islam. With her strong leadership and commitment, Lies has empowered countless Indonesian women and brought gender into mainstream parlance in Indonesia.

 

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
A: I graduated from IAIN/UIN Jakarta, from the Islamic Theology Faculty, with a Religious Comparison Major. After more than 15 years as an activist in the reproductive health area, including as a program manager at the Association of Islamic School Development and Community (P3M), I received a scholarship from the Ford Foundation for my Masters program in the field of Health Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. 
I have also been a researcher and activist in the women’s movement in Indonesia. These are two roles that, in a number of cases, are not always linked to each other and not always played by one person. Usually, people choose to become activists by using the research outcomes of another institution as the basis for their cause, or they only become a researcher without advocating their research outcomes. 
I may be a bit unique, in that I do both. I love the research world, especially research on religious social anthropology. This issue gave my life colour and meaning. I love to go to the field; finding out, asking questions, listening to stories, and writing them up with a specific discipline and theory, particularly feminism. By doing this, I can explain a phenomenon by using a critical perspective related to the relationship (authority) between men and women, a perspective that can dismantle gender prejudice and bias, and the resulting discrimination. 
I also love to write. I love writing research outcomes. I often write an extract of my research outcome in the opinion section in media such as Kompas, the Jakarta Post, or on social media by using popular and easy to understand language. When I am writing all of these, I feel that I am conducting advocacy to change perspectives or policies. 
In the context of time, I think my momentum was timely, even though any time can be used as momentum for anyone to experience changes in their lives. I was going through life in the era of mid-New Order, which at the time was very arrogant towards people. 
The political engine of the New Order, namely the Golkar party and civil servants, became the most effective backbone in supporting the regime. Meanwhile, others of us, NGOs, the student movement and the press, must work under a shadowy pressure – invincible but frightening. Speaking on women’s rights at the time, we had to point out the mistakes of the Family Planning (FP) program for example, a program that has been proven to support development by significantly reducing the birth rate. We had to explain that a program, even with its positive impact, must still be questioned if, in its implementation, it takes away individual basic rights of women controlling their own bodies and violates the principles of democracy by forcing their will without any room for negotiation. We know that at the time, FP was done coercively, using military means, systemic threats, using the approach of shame for those who did not follow the State’s will, and did not leave room to question or refuse the program. These methods, according to us activists, violated the basic principles of freedom and jeopardized the program itself. People were following FP because of force, not because of their own awareness, but through mobilisation. Now, we can see the result, we have found the evidence that FB has been rejected for reasons that should have been discussed in the past–reasons related to its objectives, benefits, methods and origins. And this comes from a domain that should have been discussed first, such as religious or demographic political perspectives. 
I used to speak about reproductive health in the face of state coercion, now my research and advocacy remains on reproductive health issues. The difference is that we used to face the coercive force of the State, now we are facing another shadowy force from the religious perspective, which also feels entitled to have power and control over a woman’s body.    
 
Q: Can you explain how feminism is made operational in your research?
A: In researching any theme, I always want to critically observe the power relationship, including the gender power relationship.  
With this gender analysis and feminism, I can also see the agency of women: how they provide meaning, either by being compliant or fighting against the patriarchal will that is making them suffer, but it requires a critical awareness to realise this. For example, when I researched the radical movements in Indonesia, I read several research outcomes on this issue. I am baffled as to how a religious movement in Indonesia can ignore the involvement of women. How can something so real and visible manage to be skipped in the research framework. For example, the wanted terrorist Noordin M. Top can survive because he is camouflaged by forming a regular and normal family. Don’t we want to know who the wife is, whether she is afraid or not, how did they know each other, what is the wife’s view of her husband’s cause? In short, don’t we want to know how the terrorist moves from one city to another, who washes his underwear? I am very surprised that research on a religious movement in Indonesia can fail to question the women’s position. At that point, I assume there is a huge gender bias. Terrorism is considered a masculine world, the world of men. But this bias is lost in the research.
Based on this curiosity, I designed research on women and fundamentalism. I tried to observe it in a round way, not directly at the heart of the research on radicalism. I agree with the opinion of Ihsan Ali Fauzie from PUSAD Paramadina, who concluded that fundamentalism is a way to radicalism. Together with a researcher of Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama (Rumah KitaB), we intensively interviewed 20 women on what can connect women to a fundamentalist point of view and movement in Indonesia. The outcome was very interesting. In each woman we interviewed, there is an agency to fight and engage in a jihad to defend her religion. The women attached a very personal meaning to jihad. Of course, this concept was received through their involvement in their fundamentalist group. Here, there is an agency role of women, namely as ‘servants’, both in providing meaning or even criticising the organisation or their fundamentalist group. 
A more interesting thing is how women attach meaning to their jihad. Fundamentalist groups place jihad in two categories. One is major jihad (jihad kabir), namely jihad that puts your life on the line in the battlefield/conflict area. Meanwhile, small jihad (jihad saghir) is a jihad related to the role of women to give birth, especially to boys, that will become the actors of major jihad, and being patient while their husbands go on jihad. However, women from younger generations are not satisfied by this social role. They negotiate to participate in major jihad, for example by becoming bomb carriers. This is an interesting fact. But it is the researcher’s job to question this fact in a deeper way. 
In my research, because I used gender analysis and feminism, I raised the question of why women feel dissatisfied with their traditional roles in performing small jihads. This question brought me to a more interesting finding. It would seem that the social position of women within fundamentalist groups is very low. They are unappreciated, unseen and unrecognised as something that provides meaning to jihad. These young women are desperate to prove their bravery, even being braver than men. They want their role to be seen and recognised. The only way to prove this is by sacrificing their lives (as the bomb carrier). In the theological concept, actors of jihad are incentivised by receiving angels in the next world, but what is in it for the women? The concept is not as bright and clear as for men. Despite this, women still want to prove that they are willing to put their lives at risk. With this, they are ‘respected’ and their presence and existence are accepted. We can then understand why some women are willing to blow themselves up by carrying a bomb and thinking of this as a jihad (read the publication of Rumah KitaB entitled the Testimony of Servants: A Study about Women and Fundamentalism in Indonesia, red.).
Q: Violence against women is a long-standing phenomenon. How does your research bring to light data and information on the facts of violence, and thus, become evidence for policy change and social justice?
A: This is an interesting question. This explains my two working arenas – research, and writing for advocacy. I wrote an article in Kompas to respond to the statement of the Minister of Education and Culture, Mohammad Nuh, (he was in power from 22 October 2009 to 27 October 2014, red). At the time there was a rape of a Junior High School student in Depok, committed by her senior. The school refused the victim’s right to go to school after the rape. The minister said that this was not sexual violence, but consensual sex. So, instead of finding a solution on the discriminatory action of the school, the minister condoned it in the name of protecting more students. 
In this article, I explained that sexual violence against teenagers is similar to violence in dating. The point is rape can occur in a relationship initially built on a consensual basis, but at one point there is a coercion using the power relationship in the name of love. There is a gender difference that must be understood on the perception of teen boys and girls on the expression of love, the power relationship, and the meaning of a sexual relationship. This difference needs correct understanding that is not biased and not based on male assumptions.  
Another example is the research of Rumah KitaB that I am leading on child marriage (there are 14 research titles that can be viewed on https://rumahkitab.com/project-list/karya/). Attempting to step out of the focus that sees child marriage as a result of poverty, we tried to further explore the root of such poverty. Child marriage has become a phenomenon that can be found almost anywhere in Indonesia, both in rural and urban areas. Data shows that one in five Indonesian women were married when they were under age, and two thirds of these marriages ended in divorce. Indonesia is in the top ten countries with the highest child marriage rates in the world. We tried to observe the root of the poverty, namely the changing living space in rural areas as a result of change of land ownership and its conversion. When men and community figures lose their access to land, they become more picky in dealing with public moral problems, including their teenagers. They tend to be more conservative and at least let child marriage slide. By doing this, they show their power politics role and receive economic benefits by becoming a regulation broker. At the analysis level, this research demonstrated how child marriage is actually a form of violence by adults to children. To make matters even more frightening, this violence is agreed upon between adults. Not one adult is challenging it. They often state moral reasoning, in the best interests of the child, covering up shame or resolving immoral conduct. This is contradictory, because marriage of a child is clearly immoral. They drop out of school, stop expressing themselves, and stop playing, which are their rights.
Among the institutions that we observed in the context of this research, there were ‘vague’ institutions. There were neither formal nor informal institutions, but they were extraordinarily effective in promoting child marriage practices. 
Q: How do you, along with other researchers, advocate a policy change that is not reactive and does not target the issue on this ‘vague power at work’?
A: We see that child marriage is promoted not only by formal institutions, but by other institutions accommodating this practice. Emergency door regulations, such as dispensation to get married when under age from the Religious Court after the Religious Office has refused because it violated the Marriage Law is one of the accommodative formal institutions. Or, people take advantage of informal institutions, where a community figure is involved in approving a child marriage by conducting an under-handed marriage, which is illegal from the State’s point of view, but legal from a religious stand point.
Between these two institutions, there is a very powerful situation encouraging child marriage practices, neither by formal nor informal institutions. We call it a ‘vague institution’, namely decisions taken by unknown figures. It may be the mother, father, relative, a big family or the community. The point is marriage is done to cover up shame and resolve the anxiety of adults surrounding the child. This is particularly true when the child is pregnant, or is considered to have disturbed the family stability by the way the child expresses his or her sexuality. They are considered flirtatious, unable to control themselves, and so forth. This shame has plenty of power, but its bearer is so vague. That is what we mean by vague power at work. 
The research on child marriage that we conducted has produced new theories that still need to undergo some testing, for example, the phenomenon of social orphans, where the child does not have a father and mother as a place for them to seek protection and help. Their parents have lost their social roles as parents due to severe and systemic poverty.    
Q: What kind of progressive maneuver would you like to create through your research to improve the gap in the power relationship between women and men in Indonesia?
A: Our research on FP (publication entitled Religious Perspective Map on Family Planning, red.), fundamentalism, women in radical movements, or child marriage basically shows how religious views and institutions can take a larger role in protecting women. We do this by contrasting text and reality when text is used blindly as a tool to justify or legitimise violence against women. We show facts on this violence and face it with the normative, ideal teachings brought by religion. If we believe religion is a blessing for all humanity, why are only some people enjoying it? If religion teaches us good things, why does it result in bad treatment of women? Certainly, it is not about the religion, but how people interpret it in a biased and incomplete way. In the niche between the fact of bad treatment suffered by women and the normative ideal value of religion, we have the opportunity to build an alignment to women. The feminism analysis knife to me is a way to grow critical thinking and methodology to build alignment, namely thinking and action to address oppression. 
Q: What trend do you want to see in the next generation of researchers and analysts that want to promote policy change for social justice?
A: A while ago, I saw a documentary video of a poet, Agam Wispi, an Indonesian runaway poet staying in Amsterdam. He was a poet for the People’s Cultural Institution (Lekra) from Medan, North Sumatera in the late 1930s. He was the most influential Lekra poet during 1950-1960s, before joining the navy and being stuck abroad during the 1965 incident. According to the records of the Literature Encyclopaedia developed by the Ministry of Education and Culture, his poetry contained reform never seen before, such as language, expression and emotional word choices. I was very impressed with his work because it contained anger about the social situation that he considered to be unfair for the poor. 
In the 1980s, he was invited to Jakarta and he met young poets and writers in Indonesia. He was very impressed with how active these youths were. According to him, their work was very creative and they were acting to fight the oppressive regime.
Inspired by this interview, I see that a critical young generation is the most important element in social change. Issues of environment, labour and specific issues on the oppression of women are mobilised by activists. They are not just conducting research, but also consistently and persistently taking action to move and resist a bad situation. The methods may be different than during my years. The actions today are done through fun methods, out of the standard organisational boxes, but they produce very good results. Social media and technology are clearly helping them, while back in my era cell phones did not even exist.
I see the use of social media as an advocacy tool being a trend that will develop in the future. Infographics, short videos and short movies will become inevitable smart choices in this digital era to advocate policies from research outcomes. This is the era of youth in a fast-paced global era. 
However, there are two things that can pose a threat. The first is ethics. The truth of social media news is very hard to trace, from research methodology and knowledge management perspectives. How the research was conducted is not explained, all we get is the outcome. We really must uphold ethics, if not, there will be research outcomes that cannot be academically accounted for, making it no different from hoax news. If false information is used for advocacy material, that is truly frightening and clearly wrong. 
The second issue, and I feel that this is a crisis, is organisation at the grass roots level. It is there that the real fight for humanity issues lies. Who do we want to defend? Surely the oppressed people. To find them and build their resistance to oppression in the social or gender structure, they need friends. Who is currently working at the village level to organise the people? Political parties do not go that low, instead we have religious communal groups. A number of villages are lucky to be selected for NGO work. Beyond that, we expect the awareness to come from the villagers themselves, who regretfully, have not learned to truly organise themselves for more than 40 or 50 years. Existing organisations are established by the State through agents (village officials). Village elites become small kings who are currently managing their own funds, such as the village fund allocation. In my observation, this is an important facility to conduct advocacy for change. However, the institutional and organisational aspects at the lower level are very fragile. Village discussions become a technocratic mechanism where the voice of the marginalised, including women, is rarely heard. I feel that the trend of change should come from there, but who is over there? Without any critical people, without organisations based on the essence of democracy and public space free from primordial interests, we will let democracy die from its most basic core: representation at the village level. 
So if you ask me what do I want to see in the future, I want people’s education at the village level. Not only Qur’an recital. Not only about livelihoods. I want a community organisation growing at the community level, the village. It is not enough through organisations managed by the village or recital/religious groups, but a critical people’s organisation, where people are aware of their rights, within which are elements of marginalised villagers who have the same opportunity to voice their opinions. Efforts toward this have clearly been done, but again, who is over there? I left the village a while ago. I am only looking from afar and am powerless to raise the awareness of my own village people. This is ironic for many activists of social movement and the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, red. (GESI) justice movement.     
        
Q: Within the next five years, how do you see the ‘GESI perspective in research for development’ helping to create and support a wider and more robust knowledge sector in Indonesia?
A: At the knowledge production level, we have to be able to prove that without GESI, just like the examples I put forward from several researches above, the research outcomes are not only inaccurate, but also lost. Lost here means that the knowledge production cannot fulfil the expectation, which should be the basis of policies. When the research is wrong, how can the recommendations be right? At the communication level, we need creative ways, just as activists do through media, but they must be very GESI-sensitive. Not for the sake of GESI itself, but so that knowledge can really be effective and knowledge can be easily read by policy makers.
I feel that issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) must be prioritised. There are 17 targets that need robust knowledge production. This will also help policy makers to budget and plan a policy. A simple example is how many contraceptives are needed in this country? We cannot simply give up to the drug industry producers. Knowledge production must be able to complement the State with correct data, so that the State can meet the reach of contraceptives, thus meeting the rights of women.
SGD targets need good databases. The GESI perspective is important to be brought forward, especially for data on targets that seem to be neutral on GESI, for example, the target to eradicate malnutrition and famine, or targets on water and sanitation. Without using GESI, the target to eradicate malnutrition, stunting, famine, or to make clean water available will not be achieved. There needs to be an understanding of how the power relationship works and influences access and control of nutrition and clean water. The power relationship can be based on ethnicity, race, physical condition, or geographical condition, within which there should be the reality of the gender and age relationship. 
Source: https://www.ksi-indonesia.org/en//news/detail/ksi-interview-with-lies-marcoes-gesi-perspective-in-research-for-development?fbclid=IwAR04kL94bzjdc3sTgW25pk2uuNoT2BNnRZXgY8g6BNoGGIcHWBX0nsX9JOE

Finland expresses its gratitude for contributions to equality with special recognition – Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation from Indonesia among the recipients

Finland places great significance on promoting equality in the world, and wishes to thank those who are working towards this common goal. To express its gratitude, Finland will be presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the globe who are committed to advancing inclusivity in society. The names of the first recipients from 16 countries were released today, with one of the honours going to Indonesian Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation.

Equality is a core value for Finland and its people. To highlight the importance of equality and to show gratitude for the valuable work that is being done to advance equality in society, Finland will be presenting special recognition to individuals and groups around the world. Finland aims to encourage conversation about equality and promote initiatives for a more inclusive society.

Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation (Rumah KitaB) is a research institution aiming to empower women, children and marginalized groups in Indonesia. It pursues an equal society by shedding light on discriminating social and religious structures through advocacy, education and awareness building. It is led by Ms. Lies Marcoes Natsir, an independent consultant and expert in the fields of women’s rights, reproductive health, and gender in Islam.

Among other recipients of the recognition are individuals and groups from Singapore, Croatia, Namibia, Norway and Japan. They represent a range of fields, including education, minority rights and gender equality. The full list of the first recipients and more info about why they were selected are available at: https://finland.fi/han/#Han_honours.

The recognition forms part of a broader campaign about equality, launched in June 2019 and continuing until the end of the year. Finland aims to bring questions of equality to the fore of the international conversation.

In 2017, the year Finland celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence, it promoted action around the world in the name of gender equality and launched the first International Gender Equality Prize. The prize will be awarded for the second time later this year.

 

List of recognition recipients: https://finland.fi/han/#Han_honours
Finland’s equality campaign website: www.finland.fi/han
​​​​Rumah Kita Bersama website: https://rumahkitab.com/en/
IGEP: https://genderequalityprize.fi/en

 

Source: https://finlandabroad.fi/web/idn/current-affairs/-/asset_publisher/h5w4iTUJhNne/content/finland-expresses-its-gratitude-for-contributions-to-equality-with-special-recognition-rumah-kita-bersama-foundation-from-indonesia-among-the-recipi-1/384951

Child Marriage in Indonesia: Resolving an Issue

by Lies Marcoes and Fadilla Dwianti Putri

Child marriage is a form of violence against women and girls, as it deprives them of their rights to education, healthcare, and freedom from violence, among others. Indonesia has committed to end child marriage in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

However, as of 2016, it is estimated that one in nine girls in Indonesia will marry before the age of eighteen1 and, due to its large population, the country is among the ten countries worldwide with the highest absolute number of girls married while underaged.2

The Issues
The research on child marriage in Sumenep Regency, Madura, East Java undertaken by Rumah KitaB3 in 2015 shows that close to 70 percent of the people in the regency got married before the age of eighteen. The district of Dungkek in the regency had the highest number of child marriage, with about 80 percent of its nearly four thousand people – as per national population records in 2015 – having married as children.

The research also reveals that child marriage is caused by different factors and circumstances. But there is one common factor that led to it – either the complete absence of parental guidance due to migration, or weakened family structures resulting from divorce or pressures related to survival in the face of poverty.

Another research conducted in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara province involving four girls (identified as Rita, Ida, Vera and Idawati)4 reveals the significant roles played by religious and community leaders in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. Young couples who eloped (merariq) are urged by these leaders to marry immediately, and insist that marriage is the only solution to the situation to prevent shame on the whole village. The community has a strong culture of shame. It recognizes the religious and community leaders as custodians of customary rules. These customs are reinforced by Islamic religious values that add greater pressure to eloping young couples to marry.

Unmarried girls who eloped and failed to immediately marry are subject to social pressure including gossip and ridicule. They would be referred to as mayung bakat (literally meaning “injured deer”), dedare toaq/mosot (old spinsters) or “tainted” and thus a disgrace to the family. Boys on the other hand are not subject to these social mores.

For girls who get pregnant, religious values require marriage in order to have the names of both parents listed on the child’s birth certificate. According to Islam, the relationship of a child to the father can exist once ijab qabul (exchange of marriage vows) has occurred. Outside of marriage, the child would only be officially related to the mother.

Girls who marry early are forced to bear the financial burden of their households through informal work, and not allowed to continue their education (but the boys continue their study). Many are forced to raise children alone (as in the cases of Rita and Ida). Child marriage is also associated with the high divorce rate in Lombok. Being psychologically ill-equipped at such young age to deal with marriage and economic pressures, many child marriages lead to divorce within one year.

ChildMarriage-1s.jpg

ChildMarriage-2s.jpg

Wedding reception in Lombok (Photos by Morenk Beladro)

Health and Child Marriage
Studies on child marriages often refer to the impact of underage marriage on women’s reproductive health. From the four case studies in Lombok, three of the girls experienced adverse effects on their reproductive health. One showed signs of anemia during her pregnancy, and another experienced bleeding due to an underdeveloped uterus. A third one was administered contraception at a very young age. 80 percent of teens in Lombok suffer from anemia, a condition affecting the uterus and nutrient supply to an unborn child. This poses risks during and after (postpartum) birth. Furthermore, the impacts of child marriage on reproductive health are not limited to physical health, but also to the psychological health of the girls who have not yet reached a level of maturity required to raise a child.

The 2013 data from Lombok, show the mortality rate of women as shown in the table below.

Number of Maternal Mortality in Lombok in 2013
Pre-natal Natal Post-Natal Amount
Mataram 3 2 9 [14]
East Lombok 10 0 25 35
Central Lombok 1 3 16 20
West Lombok 4 3 3 10
North Lombok 0 0 2 2
Total [81]

(Source:West Nusa Tenggara(NTB)Statistics Office5)

The Lombok statistics show that the highest rate of maternal mortality occur at the post-natal phase. The leading causes of maternal mortality in Lombok are bleeding, infection, complications associated with heavy workloads following birth, and poor health and sanitation facilities.

Infant mortality, on the other hand, usually occurs when infants are around one month old, and two-thirds of the cases occur when infants are around one week old. The West Lombok Health Department sees low birth weight, often related to the physical and mental condition of young, ill-prepared mothers, as the biggest factor for infant mortality. These factors also relate to the high rate of maternal mortality in Lombok, especially when a mother’s reproductive organ is not yet fully mature.

Measures to Address Child Marriage and Health Problems
The Indonesian Marriage Law of 1974 provides that a girl of at least sixteen years of age can marry with parental consent. But the Law on Child Protection of 2002 defines a person under the age of eighteen as a child regardless of gender. The conflict between the two laws was brought to court. On 13 December 2018, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia issued an order declaring the provision of the Indonesian Marriage Law of 1974 on marrying age for girls unconstitutional and discriminatory against girls. It also considered this legal provision as against the law on child protection.6

But the question remains, how can child marriage be stopped at the level of the community? The people know the law on marriage and in a number of cases prevented the application of the law by using the traditional marriage system to allow child marriage,7 or by using the legal process with falsified documents on their age.

Of the four case studies examined in the research, it is clear that there is a link between child marriage, social change and cultural stagnation in terms of the application of merariq in Lombok’s case or fear of becoming an “old spinster”8 in other cases.9 Due to the absence of parental guidance and support, low levels of maturity and education, the girls agreed to marry. They viewed marriage as a solution to the problems they faced at home. Social and institutional pressures and the strict application of cultural traditions by community and religious leaders make it difficult for girls like Rita and Vera to be allowed to continue their schooling and postpone marriage until they are physically, emotionally and psychologically more equipped to deal with the pressures of marriage and raising a family. The case of Vera (who continued her study after marriage) however is a clear example of how intervention by legal aid providers and provincial and district legal institutions can lead to much better outcomes for girls particularly in relation to education.

Therefore, besides working at the national level to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls, working together with formal and non-formal institutions at the community level is crucial since these institutions are the “gatekeepers” who have power to allow and, at the same time, to prevent child marriage at the community level.

Lies Marcoes is the Executive Director while Fadilla D. Putri is the Program Manager of Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama. 

For further information, please contact: Lies Marcoes  and  Fadilla D. Putri, Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama (Rumah KitaB), Rawa Bambu I, Blok B/7, Pasar Minggu, Jakarta 12520 Indonesia; ph (6221) 7803440, 778837997; e-mail: official[a]rumahkitab.com; www.rumahkitab.com .

*This article is largely based on the 2015 report of the authors entitled Child Marriage and the Phenomenon of Social Orphans in Lombok, Rumah Kita Bersama and Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice, and the 2016 report entitled Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, April 2016. More recent documents supplemented the discussion from these reports.

Endnotes

1 UNICEF Indonesia Factsheet: Child Marriage in Indonesia, 2017.

2 UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2017.

3 Lies Marcoes and Fadilla Dwianti Putri, Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, April 2016.

4 The four women in the case studies were identified through consultation with local activists, government officials and community members. The interviews were held after getting the approval of the woman, her parents and village leadership.

5 Lies Marcoes and Fadilla Dwianti Putri, Child Marriage and the Phenomenon of Social Orphans in Lombok, Rumah Kita Bersama and Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice, 2015, page 4.

6 See Agustinus Beo Da Costa, “Court ruling brings Indonesia closer to ending child marriage: campaigners,” Reuters, www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-women-marriage/court-ruling-brings-indonesia-closer-to-ending-child-marriage-campaigners-idUSKBN1OC1CM 

7 See discussion on role of institutions in Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, op. cit.

8 Translated from the Indonesian language “perawan tua.”

9 Marcoes and Putri, Testimony of the Child Brides – Summary of Results of Research Study on Cases of Child Marriage and the Role of Institutions in Nine Regions in Indonesia, op. cit.

NU Chairman Calls on Indonesian Muslims to Help Prevent Child Marriage

BY : SHEANY

JANUARY 23, 2019

Jakarta. Said Aqil Siradj, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Islamic organization, has called on Muslims to play an active role in helping to prevent child marriage in Indonesia.

“Preventing child marriage is a mighty important thing to do, to avoid the negative impacts on women and children,” Siradj said, as quoted in a statement by the Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation.

In a meeting with members of the foundation at Nahdlatul Ulama’s headquarters in Central Jakarta on Monday, Siradj also offered to hold a focus group discussion with NU’s education body to build a common understanding on the importance of preventing child marriage and increasing the organization’s role in ongoing efforts.

The Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation is a research institute for policy advocacy established in 2010. Its work focuses on fighting for the rights of marginalized communities.

Involving both religious and nonreligious organizations is considered a viable way to help end child marriage, especially in rural communities where it is still practiced and considered part of tradition.

Indonesia ranks 7th among countries with the highest absolute numbers of child marriage, with around one in nine girls married before they turn 18.

The prevalence of this practice in the archipelago affects approximately 375 girls every day, according to data published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Despite the legal age of marriage being 21 in the country, there have been exemptions allowing girls as young as 16 to wed with parental consent.

In December, the Constitutional Court ruled that the government must change this minimum age requirement.

The court declared that the 1974 Marriage Law discriminated against girls and diverged with rules on child protection, and subsequently gave lawmakers three years to decide what the new minimum age should be.

However, many cases show that girls enter into religious marriages through nikah siri, which literally means “secret wedding,” that are not registered with the government. The underreported nature of child marriages means that grassroots-level efforts are key, and influential organizations such as Nahdlatul Ulama could therefore play a crucial role.

“Preventing child marriage is an urgent matter for us to reduce divorce rates and for families to thrive,” Siradj said.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/context/nu-chairman-calls-on-indonesian-muslims-to-help-prevent-child-marriage

Why women ulema reject patriarchy

by Yulianti Muthmainnah

The challenge of pluralism that Indonesia faces today is the strengthening of identity politics, where women are among the targets of patriarchal ideals hiding behind the robes of religion. Religion is used to justify polygyny and child marriage, among other things.

Increasing efforts to revive polygyny as an acceptable practice often refer to Prophet Muhammad’s household, though some of his wives were older. Likewise, child marriage is seen as a way to preserve a girl’s morality and purity by avoiding sinful premarital sex. The strategy of appealing to religious purity juxtaposes “us” with “them” — “infidels”, “the West” and “Westerners”.

This leads to ahistorical and meaningless interpretations of religious texts. The policing of women and their bodies is considered necessary to uphold religion.

We see, for instance, advertisements on chat groups promoting seminars or training on “fast polygyny” with fees of Rp 3.5 million (US$241.30) to ensure “responsible” polygyny supposedly in line with the practice of the Prophet, or a cheap marriage package guaranteed to be syar’i (in line with sharia) for those under 18.

Meanwhile, child marriage has reached emergency proportions. According to a report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, “State of the World’s Children 2016”, one in seven girls in Indonesia is married as a child.

Thus, Indonesia ranks second among the 10-member ASEAN and seventh internationally in the prevalence of child marriage.

Among many factors, including poverty, studies by the Rumah KitaB research center show that religiosity, especially the wish to preserve morality, plays a very significant role in child marriage.

The impacts on women who get married as children include dropping out of school, exposure to domestic violence, poor reproductive health and even death related to pregnancy and complications in labor, apart from poverty.

Women in a polygynous marriage also often lack access to social protection, many have neither birth nor marriage certificates and lack legal documents for inheritance, among other negative consequences.

The 1974 Marriage Law essentially upholds monogamous marriage and limits child marriage. However, polygyny and child marriage appear to be on the rise; justifications found in the same law include conditions for taking another wife and legal permission even for children under 16 to marry based on parental request.

Yet, women and girls in polygyny and child marriage are legally unprotected, because most of the unions are unregistered and undocumented.

A historic breakthrough occurred on Dec. 13: The Constitutional Court ruled to end child marriage, though the demanded increase in the marriage age requires a change of the 1974 law to become effective. The ruling followed the third attempt at changing the law, with the main plaintiffs including women that had been married as children.

Women ulema have long felt the need to respond to religious views that are detrimental to women, by offering a new perspective inspired by the Islamic spirit of justice and protection.

As a member of the Muhammadiyah Islamic organization and the Indonesian Women Ulema Congress (KUPI), I have witnessed the progress of women in Indonesia in addressing continued abuse against women and girls.

Aisyiyah, the women’s wing of Muhammadiyah, and the Muhammadiyah councils of fatwa and Islamic reform in Makassar this year issued a fatwa on children (fikih anak) that states the minimum marrying age should be 18 for males and females, who are generally physically and psychologically mature at this age.

In its book Keluarga Sakinah (Family with Tranquillity) published in 1982, Muhammadiyah promoted the understanding of the ideal family based on the principle of monogamy.

Such teachings and legal opinions had progressed far beyond the state policy under the 1974 Marriage Law.

Meanwhile, KUPI’s initial congress in 2017 produced three fatwas, one being that preventing child marriage is mandatory, because child marriage brings about damage and harm rather than bringing families closer to a household of tranquillity, love (mawaddah) and compassion (wa rahmah).

Such fatwas from Muhammadiyah and the KUPI should always guide efforts to increase awareness of the dangers of child marriage and polygyny.

At a recent expert conference on pluralism in Paris in November, speakers shared how teachings of faith and custom continued to corner women, even justifying violence against them.

At least in Indonesia, I told participants, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) has begun to record instances of violence against women, following efforts of women groups and the National Commission on Violence against Women.

We heard how in Nigeria, according to Benedicta Daber, director of Justice

Development and Peace Caritas, many women face poverty if they separate from their husbands, or continued domestic abuse if they don’t, as the religion did not allow divorce.

When a husband dies, the woman either must marry a man from the husband’s family if she wants to survive and obtain her husband’s inheritance, or leave everything behind, including property and children.

A leading imam of Nigeria, Muhammad Ashafa, said the practice of polygyny reflected more on the perspective of the imam or cleric and was not an Islamic tradition.

The Quran drastically limited the number of wives to four from the unlimited number of wives permitted to men in past Arabian societies.

As even leading imams have acknowledged that polygyny is not Islamic, upholding monogamy and abolishing child marriage requires further support. Muhammadiyah and the KUPI have started with the above fatwa and legal opinions, which have been incorporated in the draft on the revision of the Marriage Law.

The law’s revision requires a huge commitment from various sides, including politicians, amid resistance from those seeking to uphold patriarchy in the guise of religion. Legislative candidate Grace Natalie of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) has spoken up clearly on monogamy.

Indeed, monogamy is not only in line with the Islamic principles of ‘adilah(justice) and mubadalah (reciprocity) but also the principle of democracy that requires justice to be assured by the state, even in the most personal sphere of the household.

The fatwa from the KUPI and Muhammadiyah councils should be constantly promoted at the local, national and international level. Though nonbinding, they provide breakthroughs to obsolete laws and narrow interpretations of Islam with vested interests of perpetuating patriarchy.

Religious figures and organizations must speak up against challenges to our pluralism, which also victimize women and girls with various justifications.

When religious figures lack formula to protect women, they should at least recognize the above breakthroughs and pass on such fatwas to their grassroots communities.

***

The writer is a lecturer at the Ahmad Dahlan Institute of Technology and Business Jakarta (STIE-AD) a member of the Law and Human Rights Council’s National Board of Aisyiyah, the women’s wing of Muhammadiyah, and program manager of Alimat, Indonesian Women Ulema Congress (KUPI). She was a speaker at a discussion on pluralism held in November by Pharos Observatoire in Paris.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/12/28/why-women-ulema-reject-patriarchy.html

Groundbreaking study on guardianship and child marriage published

The book Islamic Jurisprudence of Guardianship: Re-reading Guardianship Rights for the Protection of Women from forced Marriage and Girls from Child Marriage challenges traditional ways of thinking about the father’s role in child marriage.

Staff at the NCHR partner institution Rumah Kitab in Indonesia. (Photo: Rumah Kitab)

The book looks at the question of guardianship from a new angle. Traditionally almost all religious legal arguments are linked to men’s authority over women as guardians. Arguments condoning child marriage are centered on the rights of the father (wilaya), while those related to the rights of the husband are centered on his role as a protector and head of the family (qiwama).

Islamic legal thinking and social experience

The book has explored the relationship between social experience and Islamic legal texts, uncovering that the concept of maturity (baligh), unwanted pregnancy and worries about committing adultery also conditions the occurrence of child marriage. Feminist scholars have also contributed to the discussions on related issues, among them domestic violence.

Rethinking guardianship

Re-reading the concept of guardianship in Islamic legal thinking, taking social reality into consideration, is therefore a prerequisite to combat child marriage. The book urges a broader vision of interpretation in order to legitimate change of practice.

The book

The book originally titled Fikih Perwalian: Membaca Ulang Hak Perwalian Untuk Perlindungan Perempuan Dari Kawin Paksa Dan Kawin Anak (Indonesian) is a result of a series of discussions in 2018 in Indonesia on classical and modern religious texts on guardianship (wilaya and qiwama). Eight rounds of discussions were led by Ulil Abshar Abdalla and Lies Marcoes-Natsir.

Source: https://www.jus.uio.no/smr/english/about/id/news/guardianship-indonesia.html?fbclid=IwAR3xVNBvSnkiJgKh4HP457fWFCIS5Pi-alICiQgpixlFgSCel5b2_XUP754

Indonesian children marry despite outcry

Two Indonesian children got married in Sulawesi this week, after a long battle to do so which drew nationwide attention and criticism.

The 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl had sought permission from a religious court for their wedding.

The case triggered strong criticism at home and abroad. The government is now planning changes to the law.

Indonesia is a majority Muslim country and has among the highest number of child brides in the world.

The current minimum marriage age is 16 for girls and 19 for boys, but religious courts can issue exceptions and often do so.

The young bride told reporters their marriage was “destiny” and that the two initially dated for five months.

When their families found out, they immediately urged the two to get married.

The bride’s mother had also been married at the age of 14.

Too young?

Their request to get married was rejected though by the office of religious affairs (KUA), which is responsible for weddings, on the grounds that they were too young.

The couple’s parents then took their case to a religious court which overruled KUA. On Monday, the pair finally wed.

According to the bride, she plans to pursue her education before thinking about having children.

Her 15 year-old husband, who has already dropped out of school, said he would continue working to feed his family.

Political action

While not the norm, early marriages take place throughout Indonesia.

According to the UN’s children office Unicef, 14% of women in Indonesia are married before they turn 18 and 1% are married before they are 15.

The young couple’s case sparked opposition from citizens, religious scholars and garnered a lot attention on social media.

President Joko Widodo has now said he plans to introduce new regulations to stop the practice of child marriage by raising the minimum age.

Lies Marcoes, an expert on gender and Islamic studies, told BBC Indonesia: “The state must recognise this very serious crisis – early marriage is a silent death alarm because it contributes to the high maternal mortality.”

In 2017, a group of female Islamic clerics in Indonesia issued an unprecedented edict against child marriage.

The clerics urged the government to raise the minimum legal age for women to marry to 18 from the current 16.

The female clerics cited studies which highlight that many Indonesian child brides are not allowed to continue their education and half the marriages end in divorce.

According to Human Rights Watch, “there is overwhelming evidence child marriage has devastating consequences,” often leading to poverty and health risks linked to early pregnancies.

Child brides are also more likely to experience domestic violence, the NGO says.

Additional reporting by BBC Indonesia’s Famega Syavira.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43876307

Education, Synergy and Empowerment Keys to Ending Child Marriage in Indonesia

By: Sheany

Jakarta. Putting an end to child marriages remains a challenge for diverse and populous countries like Indonesia, but experts and activists believe that it can be achieved through enhanced efforts in education, synergy across institutions and communities and empowerment for young girls.
Indonesia ranks 7th among countries with the highest absolute numbers of child marriage, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Around one in nine girls in the country are married before they turn 18-years old. The prevalence of child marriage in the country affects approximately 375 girls every day, according to data published by the Unicef.

“If you ask what must be done, then the best way is to work with formal and non-formal institutions, leaders from both, and in particular with the Muslim [community],” Lies Marcoes-Natsir, executive director of Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation, said on Thursday (08/03) at a press conference in Jakarta.

Established in 2010, Rumah Kita Bersama is a research institute for policy advocacy, working to fight for the rights of marginalized communities.

According to Lies, while the Indonesian government has shown commitment to ending child marriages, the problem is centered in the practice of dualism in Islamic and national law.

“There is a trend of fundamentalism or conservatism [among] government officers, who also use the Islamic jurisprudence for legal decisions,” Lies said.

The issue has received less attention than other emergencies recognized by the state, she added. While the legal age of marriage is 21 in Indonesia, there is an exemption to allow girls as young as 16 to wed with parental consent.

Often, child marriage is perceived as a tradition or a solution to economic hardship, and many girls are married through a traditional marriage, or nikah siri.

According to the chairwoman of Girls Not Brides, Princess Mabel van Oranje, there is a misconception as to the benefits of child marriage, and advocacy campaigns to end the practice must be centered on the benefits of the alternatives.

“If Indonesia doesn’t have child marriage, economic growth will increase by 1.7 percent … This is not just about girls’ rights, or the well-being of individuals. This is about a smart investment for families, for communities, for men and boys – they will benefit,” Mabel said, referring to a study on the impact of child marriage on economic growth conducted by Unicef.

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership comprising 900 civil society organizations across 95 countries and works to put an end to child marriage.

Mabel added that one of the key answers to ending child marriage is through education.

Lies echoed this sentiment during the press conference and emphasized that efforts to educate and raise awareness about the issue must also be directed toward adults and boys as part of a collective effort to prevent child marriage.

Education must also give space for awareness about sexual and reproductive health, despite social norms in the country that views intimate issues such as women’s health as taboo.

While these efforts might prove challenging for Indonesia, Mabel said that the work must continue onward.
“We need to find ways to tackle these difficult issues in a respectful way,” Mabel said.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Unicef, Aksi Network, Girls Not Brides and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Indonesia hosted “Youth Voices Against Child Marriage,” which saw a hundred young Indonesians participate in a discussion on ways to prevent child marriage.

Nadira Irdiana, a committee member of the Aksi Network, said that gender inequality is an issue that affects how young girls see themselves in the public sphere.

It makes the work of empowering young girls important, Nadira said, as it allows girls to believe in their abilities and become independent.

In addition, Nadira argued that children and teenagers must be included in the decision-making processes.
“Give trust to young people, adolescents, to participate in finding the solution,” Nadira said.

Lauren Rumble, deputy representative of Unicef Indonesia, stressed the importance of partnerships among relevant stakeholders, including leaders in government, communities and religious institutions, as well as caregivers, parents and networks, to amplify the voices of girls.

“The perfect solutions are the ones that listen to the voices of girls, demonstrate the alternatives [to child marriage],” Rumble said.

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*) http://jakartaglobe.id/news/education-synergy-empowerment-keys-ending-child-marriage-indonesia/

Legal Dilemma of Child Marriage

KOMPAS, 6 February 2018 – The legal aspect seems to be the weakest in efforts to prevent child marriage in the country. In practice, isbat nikah (a marriage conducted according to customary religious law) and the dispensasi nikah (marriage dispensation; an application to the religious court for permission to marry an underage partner) are two loopholes that can turn the illegal act of marrying a child, legal. Furthermore, both tacitly acknowledge the “legality” of non-state regulations that should thus be deemed illegal, with legal sanctions for violators.

Historically, the existence of non-state laws, including religious and customary laws, are inseparable from the wealth of laws that have existed in Indonesia long before the colonialists brought with them the concept of laws as a consequence of a modern state.

Colonial advisors such as Snouck Hurgronje or Islamic law expert Van den Berg assured that maintaining the customary and religious laws of a colonized people would prevent uprisings.

At the same time, the stance would help the colonial government gain support and acknowledgment for applying ethical policies to a colonized people. Therefore, legal pluralism emerged through recognizing the practice of religious and customary laws, especially in family matters, including marriages, inheritances and donations.

Legal domination and tyranny

During the New Order, advocacy continued for establishing customary and religious laws on an equal standing with state laws. This was especially relevant in relation to indigenous people who wanted to maintain their traditional laws to protect their communal right to customary lands. Activists fought for the implementation of legal pluralism to prevent the unilateral domination of state laws that might be abused to take over indigenous lands as concession areas.

The political nuances that underlined this movement might have been different from those during the colonial era. If legal pluralism was implemented during the colonial regime to tame the colonized population, it was used under the New Order to protect the lands of indigenous groups and tribes that were vulnerable to state occupation in the name of economic development.

However, in relation to family law, the state attempted to consolidate all marriage laws through the Marriage Law (Law No. 1/1974), and the Compilation of Islamic Laws (KHI) under Presidential Instruction No. 1/1991. Under these two regulations, all citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, are required to abide by national laws. The regulations also affirm the authority of state laws above religious laws.

Different from agrarian issues in which activists fight for and defend legal pluralism for the protection of nature-dependent indigenous groups, providing space for customary and religious laws has never been a focal point of struggling for legal pluralism in family law. On the contrary, activists tend to agree on regulating family law through state laws.

In this context, Barry Hooker, an Australian professor of Islamic law, introduced the concept of big laws and small laws to differentiate the level of legal sources between state laws and religious laws (or fikih in Islam) in resolving family matters. For Hooker, what was important was that small laws must abide by big laws.

Such a mindset is manifested in practice through regulations that necessitate a legal hierarchy in which the 1945 Constitution and national laws must serve as the foundations of all derivative regulations. In such a hierarchy, religious and customary laws must not contradict state laws or other regulations that rank above them.

However, it seems that, in the discourse over legal pluralism, no one could imagine that communal, customary and religious laws would be powerless in the face of state laws that were established as a concept of the post-colonial modern state.

Recognizing legal pluralism, which originally aimed to provide recognition and protection for communal, customary and religious laws against the intimidation and oppression of state laws, could lead to legal domination or, at the very least, legal contestation. No one took into account the prerequisites necessary to create such a legal order.

Legal pluralism can only be implemented in a democratic and egalitarian society with equality in social relationships and one that relies on legal philosophy instead of mere personal beliefs. In a non-egalitarian and undemocratic society that does not believe in the principle of equality, legal pluralism can become tyranny. Small laws can be used to shackle bigger laws.

This is being prompted by legal contestations in which religious laws are prioritized over state laws, based on a belief in the sanctity of its source. This is reflected in justifying child marriage through the use of Islamic textual laws that are accepted as actual laws.

In order to resolve this issue, University of Indonesia professor Sulistyowati Irianto said that legal pluralism should be open to new and global regulations, including international conventions on human rights. Legal pluralism should also serve as a tool to correct customary laws when these are not in line with principles of justice.

Loose age boundary

Conventions on child rights and discrimination against women are stronger legal foundations in efforts to prohibit child marriage.

Islamic family law researcher Stjin van Huis of the Netherlands wrote in his research on religious courts in Cianjur and Bulukumba that, in relation to child marriage, judges can refer to social laws and norms in issuing dispensations as long as a minimum age restriction is enforced.

The problem is that Indonesia does not recognize a minimum age restriction for filing marriage dispensations, leading to judges relying mostly on their own discretion in marriage dispensation cases. Therefore, in cases of child marriage, the state seems to lack firmness in implementing age restrictions as stipulated in the Marriage Law. This shows that religious laws still have a significant influence on people – even beyond state laws. Perhaps the influence of religious laws is growing along with the expanding landscape of religious politics in Indonesia’s increasingly conservative public spaces.

As Michael Pelatz wrote in his book, Modern Islam, Religious Courts and Cultural Politics in Malaysia, family law and their implementation by religious courts are critical in helping to create a civil society that abides by national laws and individual rights. At the same time, these laws can free individuals – especially women – from the unjust primordial shackles of ethnicity, traditional customs and gender.

KOMPAS/TOTO SIHONO

Lies Marcoes

Coordinator of Empowerment Programme, Rumah Kitab

Community Forum Discussion of Child Marriage at Panakkukang – Learning from Indonesian and Australian Experience

AIPJ2, MAKASSAR – Child marriage is beyond a statistical issue. The high number of child marriages in Indonesia, which reached 23 percent of all marriages in 2015 (according to the Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF) also reflects the loss of opportunities for young women in maximising their potential. Poverty and cultural practices are several factors that contribute to the high number of child marriages, including in Tamamaung and Sinrijala, Panakkukang District, Makassar.

The focus of the dialogue held on 1 November 2017 between community members, government representatives and non-formal institutions with Dr. Sharman Stone, Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls , was child marriage prevention. Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice 2 (AIPJ2) partners, Lies Marcoes and a team from Rumah Kita Bersama (Rumah KitaB), facilitated the discussion including findings from on-the-ground research.

While most child marriage cases in village areas result from poverty (including low levels of education) and cultural practices, Rumah KitaB’s study also finds other factors involved for urban areas, such as limited space in which to interact and the rising conservative value associated with shame. “…This leads parents to put more pressure on girls to get married. Pregnant or not, girls are forced to marry,” said Nurhady Sirimorok, a researcher with Rumah KitaB.

According to Dr. Stone, the Government of Australia supports the lives of children born from early marriages. Nevertheless, Dr. Stone agrees that unwanted pregnancies are challenging for society, especially for girls who have to drop out of school and face the challenge of getting a decent job.

The Government of Indonesia has adopted a minimum age for marriage based on Law no. 1/1974, article 6, which is 16 and 19 years old for women and men respectively. But this does not stop the act of falsifying ages to marry children. A former judge at the religious court in Makassar, Ibu Harijah, said that religious courts are often pressured by parents to provide dispensation to enable the family to avoid public shaming. This situation gives the impression of legal “justification” of child-age marriage.

The issue of birth certificates is also a driving force for the marriage of pregnant teenage girls. One lesson that can be drawn from Australia’s experience is how teenage girls are less stigmatised as single parents now than they were in the past, and receive child support from the government. But as much as this is the case, the family also plays an important role in maximising the potential of teenage girls. “We want all women to have an equal opportunity,” said Dr. Stone.

With various advocacy agencies, efforts to prevent child marriage begin with parenting skills, enrolling dropout children in non-formal education programs, and conducting regular meetings with community members. These agencies also provide skill-enriching activities to improve standard of living. Marketing programs to boost the sale of merchandise created by the girls are also important since they find it difficult to find buyers themselves.

At the end of the discussion, Dr. Stone concluded that differences and similarities related to the situation in Indonesia and Australia make cooperation in prevention very critical. Dr. Stone also appreciated the efforts of religious, cultural, non-formal and local government leaders in Makassar to address the issue.

Source: http://www.aipj.or.id/en/disability_inclusion/detail/community-forum-discussion-of-child-marriage-at-panakkukang-learning-from-indonesian-and-australian-experience