ITACI UNITES THE YOUTH OF CILINCING IN A CHILD MARRIAGE PREVENTION EFFORT

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in RW 6 Kalibaru, Cilincing, North Jakarta, were surprised by his choice to work on lenong, which was considered an outdated performance.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]

Andre (Tengah)

BERDAYA Report from MAKASSAR: Youth Initiative for Child Marriage Prevention

Around 30 adolescents participated in the BERDAYA Training Program for Child Marriage Prevention held by Rumah Kita Bersama on 1-3 June 2018 in Makassar, South Sulawesi. During the third day of the training, the participants were appointed as Child Marriage Prevention Ambassadors in their respective areas. They were asked to work in a group to come up with ideas and initiatives to campaign for child marriage prevention in their residential areas, Tamamaung and Sinrijala administrative villages.

Radiana was the guide for various competitions during the 73rd Indonesian Independence Day at RT.08, Sukaria 13, Tamamaung, Makassar.

Child Marriage Prevention Campaign at the People’s Party/Pesta Rakyat

The first group consists of the participants who live in Jalan Sukaria, Tamamaung Administrative Village. They initiated a child marriage prevention campaign during the 73rd celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day. For the event that was held from 16-19 August 2018, the group formed a committee, made a budget plan, and created an event concept outlining various competitions for the adolescents, children, and mothers to be held as a part of the People’s Party.

Nearing the event, the group was busy preparing. They distributed tasks among them. Some were tasked with gifts, while others collected donations from people around the area. The community was excited that the adolescents were bringing back the People’s Party which had not been held in the area for quite some time. Interestingly, the group received a lot of help from mothers who live in the area. Children also enthusiastically registered to join the competitions. The girls were also busy practicing a dance to be performed during the event. Everyone was delighted!

Radiana is one of the most active adolescents at the committee. Radiana organized her friends and the children who wanted to participate in the competitions. Sri Dewi Permai, the event’s chairperson, was also seen busily preparing for her speech and the event report a couple of days before the event. “I don’t know what to say, this is my first time delivering a speech in front of a large audience,” Dewi stated nervously.

The competitions started on 16 August 2018. People gathered at Jalan Lorong Sukaria 13. Radiana and her friends, with the help of the mothers, prepared the equipment needed for the competitions. Cracker eating contest, marble-and-spoon race, and sack race were among the competitions held on the first day of the event. The wave of excitement continued on the second day as children aged 6-12 years, adolescents aged 13-16 years, and mothers joined a balloon dance. The third day of the event saw continuous excitement as people participated in a sitting-on-a-balloon competition. The group took the chance to campaign against child marriage during this competition. Each of the balloons had a secret note containing messages to support child marriage prevention which the participants had to read out loud once the balloons popped.

The group of mothers also celebrated and assisted the Child Marriage Prevention
Ambassador to prepare and enliven their activities

During the last day of the event, the stage was set and the traditional costumes for the dancers were ready. Our ambassadors enthusiastically prepared themselves to campaign for child marriage prevention during the night of the People’s Party.

Lorong Sukaria 13 was teeming. The men climbed the stage to put up the event’s banners. Children were seen arranging chairs while the adolescents were busy preparing gifts and the mothers were preparing snacks. All of them worked together enthusiastically. Ibu Ramlah, the wife of the village head, was also busy welcoming people. The women sat in front row while the men occupied the back row. As the children were really thrilled, they only wanted to sit right in front of the stage. The long-awaited party was finally held!

Tulolona Dance of Sulawesi was performed to open the event. Radiana and Neneng, in their green-colored Baju Bodo clothing, were the event’s masters of ceremony (MC). They invited their friend, Dewi, to deliver her speech and event report outlining the budget they managed. The head of the village, Muhammad Ridwan, gave a speech and opened the event. In his speech, he expressed his appreciation for the spirit and work of our ambassadors. He hoped that such an activity would strengthen the harmony in the communities.

The winners of each competition were announced during the party and each of them proudly went to the stage to claim their gifts.

In the middle of the event, our ambassadors took the chance to campaign for child marriage prevention. They presented data and facts on child marriage in Tamamaung taken from research conducted by Rumah Kita Bersama in 2017 in Tamamaung and Sinrijala Administrative Villages. The presentation was supplemented by national data on child marriage. Our ambassadors further presented information on the definition of a child and of child marriage as well as factors contributing to child marriage and its impacts. The event was concluded with a Tari Kipas dance performed by six girls.

The Ambassadors for Child Marriage Prevention giving information about child marriages facts

A Creative Campaign, Statements Stitching

Our child marriage prevention ambassadors who are students of Tut Wuri Handayani Junior High School in Tamamaung Administrative Village had a different idea to campaign for child marriage prevention in their school. Initially, they wanted to run the campaign by gathering students and teachers in the school hall. However, this idea was met with mockery as soon as their friends learned about the topic. This was indeed a common reaction to this topic.

On 3 August 2018, seven young people gathered to discuss how they were going to implement their child marriage prevention training’s follow-up plans, as they were worried that their initial idea would result in bullying. They agreed that they needed a better idea. Finally, they came up with an idea to campaign creatively with stitching. On the same day, they also came up with the idea to stitch the statement that reads ‘I need a diploma, not a marriage certificate’ on to their clothes. They believed that this statement would serve as a powerful reminder for them and others to prevent child marriage. The statement was also addressed to their teachers to gain their support for child marriage prevention in school.

 

 

On 19 August 2018, our ambassadors met again at the home of Ade, one of the ambassadors. They selected their cloths and distributed tasks between them. Interestingly, this stitching activity was not exclusively done by the girls, as a couple of boys also turned up to help.

 

Activity embroidering statement

For them, stitching is an easy and interesting activity to do as they are accustomed to doing it during their craft lesson at school, but it was only then that they realized that stitching could be used in a campaign. They planned to display their works on the wall of their art room. They intend to meet their school’s headmaster to get permission and support for their campaign. (Sartika Nasmar)

Has Indonesia forgotten contraception?

Contraception is not simply a method to prevent pregnancy. Given the suspicion – if not outright hostility – toward contraception that is common to most religions, debates over its regulation are often deeply political and value-laden.

 

The problem is that suspicion does not solve problems. In Indonesia, adolescents cannot legally access birth control unless they are married. Yet many adolescents are sexually active, whatever their marital status. In fact, according to Unicef, one in nine Indonesian adolescents are sexually active. The Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey (SDKI) puts the figure even higher, at one in four. They have an urgent need for contraception.

 

There are more than 45 million 10-19 year olds in Indonesia. In 2017, the Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey (SDKI) found that only 45 per cent of married or sexually active adolescents aged 15 to 19 said they used contraception. This means the other 55 per cent either had no plans to use contraception or had limited exposure to knowledge about their bodies, sexuality, reproductive health, and contraceptives. These are concerning findings.

 

A 2016 study by Rumah KitaB found that from 52 female adolescents who married in childhood, 36 (about 70 per cent) got married because of unwanted pregnancies. Nearly all admitted that they never used contraception when they had sex, either because they didn’t know how to obtain the pill or didn’t have the courage to ask their partners to use a condom.

 

Only one tenth of the child brides surveyed had access to contraception. They usually acquired it from private midwives, not state-run community health centres (puskesmas), with the help of their mothers or mothers-in-law.

 

On World Contraception Day on 26 September, Indonesia received the distinction of being the country with the greatest unmet need for contraception. Lack of legally available contraception for adolescents contributed to this result. Indonesia was once a leader in family planning but it is fast becoming one of the worst performers in the region.

 

How did we get to this point? The main problem lies in flawed population policies. Grounded in the ideology of “developmentalism”, which held that the nation would become prosperous if population growth could be controlled, the New Order regime strictly applied a Family Planning project called Keluarga Berencana, or KB.

 

Using a wide range of methods and approaches, Indonesia’s population policy was deemed successful. But the program’s occasionally coercive methods, in which those who did not practice KB were treated as “the other”, alienated many. This included sections of the Muslim community, which was under the most suspicion when the program was first applied. Any effort to question, let alone oppose, the assertion that families would become prosperous through the KB program was simply crushed by the state.

 

Islamic mass-based organisations – first Nahdlatul Ulama, and later Muhammadiyah – tried to assuage Muslim anxieties about New Order enforcement of the KB policy. These two organisations agreed to support the New Order government’s population program, relying on interpretation and exploration of Islamic arguments. They justified support for KB in the name of both darurat (emergency) and maslahat (the greater good) to avoid even greater mudharat (harm) if the size of the population were not controlled.

 

However, this theological discourse from NU and Muhammadiyah certainly did not comfort everyone in the Muslim community. Even today, many Muslims are suspicious of family planning as a “western project” to reduce the size of the Muslim population.

 

This is not simply because the religious arguments are insufficient to convince them, for example because of differences in interpretation or exploration of Islamic law. Rather, narratives about “genocide of the Islamic community” have taken root, and are now considered truth by many people.

 

Those who reject family planning point to the fact that promises about family planning delivering prosperity were never truly realised, but it did reduce the size of many Muslim families.

 

Another problem is that there was never any theological debate or discussion of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) on the use of contraception by young people during the New Order era. The state seemingly sought to increase the moral acceptance of the KB program by guaranteeing that it would not be accessed by adolescents.

 

The Criminal Code (KUHP) (under Article 283) and the 2009 Population Growth and Family Development Law (under Article 26) still explicitly prohibit provision of contraception services to adolescents and unmarried couples, apart from information, and even that is restricted, with punishments of fines and imprisonment if violated. These prohibitions on serving the needs of adolescents were clearly a “band-aid” strategy to contain the anxiety and suspicions of the religious community.

 

Ignoring adolescents’ need for contraception has created a huge gap in addressing the problems of reproductive health in Indonesia. Adolescents are now a quarter of the population and among those who most need information on reproductive health and contraception services.

 

Indonesians cannot simply shut their eyes to the reality that the age at which girls are menstruating and becoming sexually active is steadily decreasing. At the same time, underage marriage is also becoming more common – on the grounds of fear of committing the “sin of premarital sex”, or if pregnancy has already occurred.

 

As long as the government remains closed to discussion on reproductive health education for adolescents, and the law remains unchanged, young people will remain shut off from accurate information.

 

The government’s reluctance to address adolescent sexual and reproductive health also provides room for conservative religious groups to push their position. And their solution is worryingly simplistic: Just marry them off!

 

Now is the time for the state, assisted by NU and Muhammadiyah, to come down from the mountaintop, and take a frank and pragmatic look at adolescent sexuality. Gaps in information and reproductive health services, including contraception services for adolescents, must be addressed.

 

If not, Indonesia can look forward to a grim future of more and more child brides and unwanted pregnancies.

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/has-indonesia-forgotten-contraception/

How saying ‘I do’ can help millions of girls to say ‘I don’t’

(CNN)Every bride gets a little nervous on her wedding day. It’s a moment of intense anticipation, as friends and family gather to witness the beginning of a lifelong commitment. Thankfully, for most brides, it is a day of joy and beautiful memories.

But what if the bride is a 12-year-old girl? And instead of walking excitedly down the aisle, she is dragged into a secluded room to be married to a man she has never met?
We tend to think of a wedding as a happy, consensual occasion, but, according to UNICEF, for 12 million girls each year, marriage is rarely a matter of choice. Child marriages upend the lives of young women around the world, preventing them from attending school and severely limiting their future opportunities. Instead, child marriage puts them at great risk for early pregnancy and childbirth (and the associated health risks), as well as violence and poverty.
The costs of child marriage for these girls, and the world, are enormous. According to the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women, failure to end child marriage by 2030 will cost developing countries hundreds of billions of dollars in loss of potential earnings by women and higher welfare costs. This is because child marriage is directly linked to higher fertility, poverty and poor health. Keeping girls in school, marrying later and having fewer children are key components of global poverty alleviation and development efforts.
Of course, in the United States, we think differently about what it costs to get married. Every year, Americans spend $100 billion to say “I do.” Weddings are a huge business — one that involves planners, designers, venues, travel companies, bakers and much more. It’s a jaw-dropping disparity, but perhaps one that can be leveraged to help us bridge the gap between child marriages and those entered into with support and ceremony.
Today, the wedding industry is coming together to give millions of girls the chance to say “I don’t.” In an incredible show of unity, sought-after brands like Crate and Barrel, The Knot, and Malia Mills are joining forces in an effort, called VOW, that enables couples and their loved ones to celebrate marriage in ways that also advance the empowerment of girls and their basic rights to health, education and equality.
When planning their wedding, couples who choose VOW products or list them on their registries will see part of the proceeds go toward ending child marriage. Guests can also donate directly to VOW, making it possible for weddings based on choice to help support girls for whom marriage is anything but.
Picture how a VOW centerpiece might put girls at the center of the conversation, by funding organizations that give them “a seat at the table.” Imagine how the gift of a couples’ retreat could help give girls the tools they need to realize their potential as young women.
That’s because all funds raised through VOW are directed to the Girls First Fund, which supports organizations working to end child marriage in Asia, Africa and Latin America by building women and girls’ collective power so they can make their own decision about when, whom and if to marry. These community-based organizations — including many led by women and girls who have escaped child marriages — use their unique expertise and insight to connect with girls, families, faith leaders and policymakers to provide vital services, help transform laws, policies and harmful social norms, and develop solutions.
Consider the traditional Malawi leaders I (van Oranje) have met, who work to convince men that child marriage keeps everyone in poverty, or the girls in Bangladesh who escaped violent marriages and today help teach parents about the benefits of educating their daughters. The Fund is grounded in the belief that girls have an essential role in designing and implementing the programs and policies that affect their lives.
Even a small fraction of the current spending on weddings would be transformative for people and organizations on the ground. By harnessing the positive power of consensual marriages, companies and couples can make an enormous difference in the lives of young women and girls around the world.
We know there is more work to be done. To extend the impact of this partnership, we’ll need more companies inside and outside the wedding industry, as well as more foundations and philanthropists, to participate.
And this kind of partnership has enormous potential — not just for addressing child marriage, but for disrupting global inequality. When companies, consumers, philanthropies, nonprofits and activists come together, we can unlock the vast resources necessary to confront our greatest global challenges.
Indeed, ending child marriage will not only eliminate a human rights violation — it will have significant ripple effects that improve gender equality, health, education, poverty alleviation and violence prevention everywhere.
Together, we can put an end to child marriage and ensure that every girl understands her rights, knows her worth and can be a force for freedom in her own life — and in the lives of everyone she knows. We can make sure the marriages we celebrate build a world where all girls are celebrated and all marriages are by choice.
Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/09/opinions/how-to-bring-end-child-marriage-van-oranje-walker/index.html

Bid to stop child marriages: NHRC report says RTE should be extended to children till 18 years

The NHRC has based its recommendation on research that shows a strong correlation between a girl child’s education level and age of marriage, with better education levels showing lesser likelihood of her being married early.

Even as a Bill to make child marriage void in India is pending before the cabinet, the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) core group on child marriage has, in its report to be submitted to the Ministry of Women and Child Development this week, recommended that the Right to Education must be extended to all students up to the age of 18 years so as to prevent child marriage. The NHRC has based its recommendation on research that shows a strong correlation between a girl child’s education level and age of marriage, with better education levels showing lesser likelihood of her being married early.

A report released by the apex child rights body National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Tuesday shows that being out of school at 15 years is a strong predictor of early marriage. The finding is based on analysis of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4 data (2015-16) for determining prevalence of child marriage among girls in the 15-19 years age group.

NHRC Secretary General Ambuj Sharma, who released the report on Tuesday, said, “The NHRC had recently formed a core group on child marriage. In our report, we have noted that a necessary step to prevent early marriage is to make education free and compulsory for all children up to the age of 18 years. Accordingly, the Right to Education Act must be amended so that it is applicable up to class 14 instead of class 8 right now.”

The report, ‘India child marriage and teenage pregnancy’, compiled by NCPCR and the NGO Young Lives India, shows that in almost all states, the completion rate of secondary schooling is significantly higher among unmarried girls in the 15-19 years age group. The report shows that in the 15-19 age group of married girls, 30 per cent have never received any education, 21.9 per cent have got primary education, 10 per cent have secondary schooling while only 2.4 per cent have higher education.

Among states, in Bihar, which has a child marriage prevalence far above the national average, the completion rate of secondary education among girls who married before 18 years is 51 per cent, followed by Delhi and Rajasthan at 54 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively. “There is a strong correlation between educational attainment of girls and early child marriage. There is also a strong association between parents’ low aspirations for child’s education and teenage marriage,” said Renu Singh from Young Lives. The data also showed that 32 per cent of married girls aged 13 to 19 years had their first child when they were still in their teenage. NCPCR Chairperson Stuti Kacker cited the example of Karnataka, which has made child marriage null and void.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 doesn’t invalidate child marriage but only gives the contracting parties the option of annulling it within two years of becoming adult or through a guardian in case they are still minors. The WCD ministry’s proposal, seeking to make make child marriage ‘void ab initio’, is pending approval of the Union cabinet for a while now.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bid-to-stop-child-marriages-nhrc-report-says-rte-should-be-extended-to-children-till-18-years-5351429/