GATRA, EDITION July 11 – 17 2013. Commemoration of National Family Day in Kendari, last July 29 was spent by a vigorous campaign preventing early marriage. The National Family Planning Coordination Board (BKKBN) calls it Program Generasi Berencana (Genre) – The Planned Generation. In the same package as The Raise of Minimum Age of Marriage or (Pendewasaan Usia Perkawinan PUP). Two days before the main event, a youth seminar was held in Hotel Azahra, Kendari on June 26, presenting the National Genre Student Ambassador 2012, Shauqi Maulana.
Shauqi, the student of Lambung Mangkurat University Banjarmasin, explained about the three factors that trigger his province, South Kalimantan, to be the first-ranked in child marriage occurrence in Indonesia: the fear of being an old maiden stigma, economic situation pressure, and religion. The activities were then continued with “Genre Festivities” on the Public Park of Kendari City. In front of hundreds of youth, Head of BKKBN, Fasli Jalal, explained about the three crucial problems of youth, namely: teen pregnancy, drugs, and HIV/AIDS.
Fasli mentioned a 2010 research by ANU and University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Tangerang, and Bekasi regarding premarital conception where a total of 22.7% of teenage girls under the age of 20 became pregnant before marriage. The next day, June 27, held an obstetric seminar at the Haluoleo University, Kendari. One of the focuses was the medical risk of child marriage.
The Family Planning (KB) campaign does not only contain conventional themes that having two children are enough, which is often targeted at married couples. Dissemination of KB also brings the issue of child marriage, which is mostly aimed at teenagers. These two issues are equally linked to religious understanding.
Most people make religious ideology as a reference norms and standards of living. Pros and cons of family planning, in its history, correlated with the people’s religious understanding. “The key to the success of our efforts,” said Vice President Boediono at the peak of the Family Day in Kendari, “is how we can make a small, happy, prosperous and accepted by the community as the norm and standard.”
Some people refuse Family Planning using religious arguments, both on the topic of having two children is enough, which emerged since the beginning of the New Order, as well as on the issue of child marriage, which emerged post-New Order. Mainstream Islamic organizations, NU, Muhammadiyah, and the MUI, tend to be resistant during the pilot phase of family planning programs, which is in early New Order era. Family planning programs were addressed carefully so as not to slip in the category of filicide.
Because, in the holy Koran, killing children for fear of poverty is prohibited. There are also teachings that sustenance is the gift from God (QS. Al-Isra`: 31). New mainstream Islamic community can receive KB insofar as regulating offspring (tanzhîm al-nasl) and not limitation (tahdîd al-nasl). Later, more Muslim mainstream groups could receive the KB macro agenda. Even if there is to the KB Macro agenda, it is more in the detail of issues surrounding family planning, such as vasectomy, tubal ligation, or abortion.
To the present KB topic such as child marriage packed within the Genre and PUP program, the fatwa of the ulemas in Padang Panjang, 2009, took the middle road. The decision of the ulemas may be considered as reflection of mainstream Muslim attitudes. The meeting which has been held every three years since 2003 was attended by representatives of mainstream Islamic organizations: Indonesia MUI Fatwa Commission, NU, Muhammadiyah, Persis, and other Islamic organizations, as well as a number of representatives from Islamic universities.
Given the term: the middle way, because on the context of child marriage, the Ulemas fatwa states that from wadh’îy legal perspective, the marriage ceremony is legitimate, but from aklîfîy legal perspective, the marriage can be forbidden if the marriage can cause dharar (danger). Muslim communities face difficulty in prohibiting child marriage. “Jurisprudence does not restrict the age of marriage,” said Amir Syarifuddin, professor of law marriage from IAIN (State Islamic Institute) Padang.
Prophet Muhammad Pbuh married Aisha when she was six years old and slept with her at the age of nine years. The Prophet’s companion, Qudamah ibn Mazh’un married daughter of Zubeir at her time of birth. Umar ibn al-Khattab married Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Ali ibn Abi Talib, when he was little. “Do not always imagine marrying a young child is equal to disaster. We have narrow perception about marriage,” said Amir. However, if there exists a research by competent experts that proves marriage in early childhood could cause harm, according to Amir, a new minimum age of marriage can be recognized by new jurisprudence.
Widespread resistance on child marriage, among others, emerged when the case of Puji Cahyo Widiyanto happened. A businessman from Semarang who called Sheikh Puji, married Lutfiana Ulfa at the age of 12 years. Ijtima ‘Ulama in Padang, in January 2009, backed Puji’s case, which surfaced in late 2008. In denying the widespread condemnation about his marriage, Puji carries a book entitled “Even Aisha had a child marriage!”
Child marriage issue emerged once more when Aceng Fikri, former Regent of Garut, West Java, divorced Octara Fanny, 18 years old, late last year. The controversy of this case had huge impact to the extent of overthrowing Aceng from his title as a regent. This topic attracted wide attention. Highlights to this topic resurfaced when it was revealed that Lutfi Hasan Ishaaq, former President of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), married Darin Mumtazah, a Secondary Vocational School (SMK) graduate.
When the mainstream Islamic groups tend to accept KB (family planning), during the reform era, a new wave of KB resistance emerged, originated from the “new” Islam movements, which in the former period worked underground. Their resistance to the limitation of offspring was similar to the NU, Muhammadiyah, and MUI argument during the start of the New Order era. This new group also rejects the anti-child marriage campaign, contrary to the mainstream religious attitude, such as the Padang Ulemas who accommodate the objection to child marriage as long as the marriage would not cause any harm (dharar).
Rumah KitaB Foundation, last July 20, released a study on the current mapping of religious views against family planning. Respondents were divided into three typologies. First, the so-called mainstream Islam, including NU, Muhammadiyah, MUI, PUI, and Al-Irsyad. Second, the local Islamist groups, among others: MT (PKS-based), MIUMI, MMI, LDII, and JAT. Third, trans-national Islamist groups, such as HTI, Salafi, and HASMI.
The study was conducted in six cities: Jakarta, Bogor, Cirebon, Solo, Yogyakarta, and Malang. A discussion was held, moderated by Lies Marcoes-Natsir, Director of Rumah KitaB, presented 3 discussants: Kartono Mohammad, Zumrotin Susilo, and Abdul Moqsith Ghazali. The resistance from this new group did not only argued in jurisprudence, but also multi-faceted.
That attitude was reflected in their arguments on the issue of early marriage. “Currently child marriage is considered a problem,” said Bachtiar Nasir, General Secretary MIUMI, the research cited. “It was a big mistake and a violation of human rights. Give me proof that child marriage caused a population explosion, “he said. “The population explosion is due to adultery. Marriage is the road to blessings; do not consider it as a problem. ”
Opinion that early marriage brings medical and psychological impact, Bachtiar said, “That was only prejudice.” He called this a result of the government’s failure to improve maternal health, thus religion was finally attacked. “The root of the problem, immorality and adultery are not resolved.” He also criticized the condom campaign to prevent AIDS. “That campaign means, please commit adultery, but use a condom,” he said. Efforts to prevent adultery did not appear. “This is a partial prevention,” he continued.
According to Lies Marcoes-Natsir, there is a need of medical arguments for the protection of mother and child health in order for KB to be acceptable. In an obstetrics seminar on Family Day in Kendari, a BKKBN Deputy of family planning and reproductive health, Julianto Witjaksono, explained that children born of early marriage are prone to have a low birth weight and risk of short or stunted growth.
It occurs as a result of the female reproductive being unprepared. The pelvic is still small and the womb is not ready yet. Babies in the womb become malnourished. “Pregnant mothers under 20 years of age give birth to more children with stunted growth, whose body is short and small, and their brains is also small. These children face more risk of suffering heart and blood vessels diseases,” says Julianto.
Currently, in Indonesia, about 45% women were married under the age of 20 years. A total of 4.2% were married at the age of 10-14 years and 41.8% were married at the age of 15-19 years. Kartono Mohammad, in a discussion of the study, warned that every year, Indonesia’s population grew 4 million people, equivalent to the citizens of Singapore. “The number is similar to Singapore’s, but the quality is far below,” said Kartono. He urged that discussion about KB is not always dogmatic in nature. [Asrori S. Karni and Ade Faizal Alami]