Andriantono or Andre is one of BERDAYA Program for Youth’s beneficiaries in Cilincing who was successful in incorporating the issue into a lenong performance. Drawn to lenong since a young age, Andre views that the child marriage prevention materials he received are perfect to be used in a lenong performance.
Andre first acted in 2010. He recalled that back then, his friends in RW 6 Kalibaru, Cilincing, North Jakarta, were surprised by his choice to work on lenong, which was considered an outdated performance.
Andre, who was still in high school back then, fell in love with traditional performances. Outside of school, he liked to join events held by many civil society organizations such as World Vision which held a performance in the area a few years ago as a part of its Children’s Day Celebration and Children’s Rights Campaign. Since then, Andre could not take his eyes off art performances, including lenong.
His passion for acting continues even now when he works full time as a security guard in Tanjung Priok Port in Cilincing. He routinely trains ten young children who are a part of the Cilincing Theatre Association (Ikatan Teater Cilincing-ITACI). He partners with Jumadi, a tent officer who was drawn to theatre because of his love for music, to train members of ITACI.
However, it is not easy to attract children in RW 6 to join art activities. “Most of them have lost their interest in art as they are more attracted to hanging out with friends, playing with their cell phones, and joining football gangs,” explained Andre.
Agreeing with Andre, Jumadi views that the adolescents in the area are in need of a more positive activity. “During the previous Ramadhan, many of them joined the suhoor parade, but in the end, they all ended up in brawls,” he added.
Irresponsible adolescent behaviour leading to child marriage is also a common phenomenon for Andre, Jumadi, and the residents of Kalibaru. Poverty and reluctance among the adolescents to talk to their parents motivates them to spend most of their time with their peers, and they often go unsupervised. The emergence of social media has also impacted the way they interact with others. “Some of my friends who got married young did not marry people from this area. Many of them met their partners who are from areas outside of Kalibaru through Facebook and chatting apps,” explained Andre.
The 2013 data of the National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) analysed by Statistics Indonesia reveal that 5.6% of girls in DKI Jakarta were married under the age of 15, 20.13% were aged 16-18 years, and 50.08% were aged 19-24 years. As it is a densely populated area, the number of child marriage in DKI Jakarta is considered high.
An assessment by Achmat Hilmi, Program Officer of the BERDAYA Program, notes that in 2017, around 20% of the women delivering babies in Puskesmas Kalibaru were children aged below 18 years. The assessment also takes note of the factors contributing to child marriage, which are: unintended pregnancies, parents’ fear that their children will get pregnant out of wedlock, long-held traditions from many parts of the country such as South Sulawesi, Riau, and West Java that support child marriage, high numbers of school dropouts who become unskilled labourers, and lack of awareness about the impact on girls of child marriage among formal and non-formal community and religious leaders.
Andre’s involvement in child marriage prevention started when he was asked by the head of the village, Bapak Haji Karim, to gather adolescents in the neighbourhood to join a training on child marriage prevention held by Rumah KitaB in Kalibaru from 29 June to 1 July 2018. This training was part of a series of trainings on child marriage prevention held in three different locations – Cilincing, Makassar, and Cirebon – for adolescents, parents, and formal and non-formal leaders with the support of Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice 2 (AIPJ2).
Not long after the completion of the training, an opportunity arose to join a lenong competition held by DKI Jakarta’s Agency of Tourism and Culture. “I proposed that my team perform a child marriage prevention-themed lenong performance, as this event celebrates not only the birthday of DKI JAKARTA but also Children’s Day,” Andre said. The competition was held on 16-20 July 2018 or two weeks after the completion of our training. “Lenong is an entertaining performance, so we can use this to deliver our message about child marriage prevention in a fun way,” he added.
Andre and Komar wrote the scenario and trained around 10 adolescents as the lenong performers. Their script talks about a story of an arranged marriage of a girl in Cilincing and it incorporates a lot of daily conversations between friends, parents, and community leaders into its storyline. “As an example, we added to the script a dialogue between a girl, just graduating from junior high school, and her parents in which she tells them that she wants to get married as soon as possible. This is indeed a common conversation among our children in Kalibaru,” Andre further added.
“We not only talked about the impact of child marriage, but we also conveyed a strong message that as a child, we are allowed to express our opinion even when it is different from that of our parents, especially when we have to disagree for a good reason and not just as an act of rebellion against our parents,” Andre explained. Although the group did not win the lenong competition, ITACI and the lenong festival have successfully united the adolescents of Cilincing to continue doing their creative activities and spreading child marriage prevention messages.
Under the BERDAYA Program, Andre and his friends who are members of a small theatre group in RW 6 and ITACI will continue to join advocacy activities to prevent child marriage. They will play their active role by conducting lenong and dance practice and providing counselling for Kalibaru adolescents that talks about the impact of child marriage in schools and in community village posts to target school dropouts. [Hilmi]