Andriantono, known by his nickname Andre, is one of the beneficiaries of the BERDAYA program for teenagers in Cilincing who managed to raise the issue of preventing child marriage through lenong, a Betawi traditional form of performing art. Attracted to lenong from an early age, Andre saw training materials to prevent child marriages as suitable for retelling in the form of Betawi drama.
Andre first acted in the theatre in 2010. He recalled that his friends at RW 06, Kalibaru, Cilincing, North Jakarta were surprised at his choice which was considered outdated.
Andre, who at that time was still attending secondary technical school, was really fond of acting. Outside of school, Andre often joined activities held by non-governmental organisations for performing arts and theatre, one of them with World Vision, a few years ago, in relation to Children’s Day and the Children’s Rights Campaign. Since then he has been enamoured of the world of art and performances, including lenong.
Andre’s theatre hobby continues even though now he works full time as a security officer at Tanjung Priok-Cilincing port. He routinely trains a small group of about 10 teenagers forming part of the ITACI network (Cilincing Theatre Association), He was accompanied by Jumadi who worked as an officer to load and unload the tent for neigborhood’s events. Like Andre, Jumadi began acting because of his love of music.
Attracting the interest of young people in arts and cultural activities in neighborhood unit (RW) 06 is not an easy matter. “Most of them lose interest in artistic activities because they prefer to hang out, use social media, or participate in football gangs,” Andre said. In agreement with Andre, Jumadi saw that actually local teenagers need positive activities. “During the recent fasting month many teenagers travelled around in groups at the time of sahur, leading to unrest and vandalism,” he added.
The incidence of adolescent promiscuity, which leads to child marriage, is well known to Andre, Jumadi, and Kalibaru residents. Economic stress and discomfort communicating with parents encourages some teenagers to spend time with peers without guidance. The accessibility of social media also influences their interactions. “People who have married young are not always with partners from this village. There are also those who have got to know people from outside [Kalibaru] via Facebook or chatting,” Andre said.
Based on the 2013 National Social Economic Survey (Susenas) data which was processed by the People’s Welfare Statistics, the number of girls in DKI Jakarta married under the age of 15, at 16 to 18, and at 19 to 24 years of age was 5.6, 20.13 and 50.08 percent respectively. With the high population in DKI, the number of child marriages is high.
The results of a study assessed in Kalibaru by Achmat Hilmi, Program Officer of Rumah Kita Bersama (Rumah KitaB), recorded that in 2017, as many as 20 percent of women giving birth at the Kalibaru Health Centre were children (under 18 years old). The assessment also noted that the causes of child marriage there included occurrence of unwanted pregnancies, parents’ concern about possible pregnancies, the culture/traditions prevailing in locations such as South Sulawesi, Riau, and West Java promoting marriage of underage children, the increase in the number of school dropouts then becoming unskilled labourers, as well as the incidence of a large number of people at all levels of society who are not yet aware of the dangers to girls of child marriage.
The opportunity for Andre to understand the issue of child marriage began when Haji Karim, Head of RW 06 Kalibaru Village, asked him to invite and assist several teenagers to take part in training on the prevention of child marriage for adolescents in Kalibaru, organised by Rumah KitaB and taking place from 29 June to 1 July 2018. This training focused on prevention of child marriages in three regions – Cilincing, Makassar, and Cirebon – for adolescents, parents, and formal and non-formal figures, and was supported by the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice 2 (AIPJ2).
Shortly after the training, Komar, the founder of ITACI, invited Andre to participate in the Lenong Festival competition organised by the Department of Tourism and Culture of DKI Jakarta Province. “I propose that we try displaying the theme of child marriage. The festival is also to commemorate the anniversary of the City of Jakarta which is celebrated every year while welcoming National Children’s Day.” The event was held on 16–20 July 2018, or exactly two weeks after the child marriage prevention training in Kalibaru. “Lenong is entertaining, so the message of prevention can be delivered in a light style,” said Andre about his strategy of socialising “Prevent Child Marriage” through lenong.
Andre and Komar then wrote the screenplay and trained about 10 teenagers as lenong actors. Introducing the theme of an arranged marriage for a girl in a family in Cilincing, the scenario inserted a lot of everyday fragments focusing on interactions between friends, parents and community leaders. “For example, there is the character of a girl who just graduated from junior high school and expresses her desire to rush into marriage. This indeed resembles the conversations of the Kalibaru children,” he added.
“In addition to the risk of child marriage, we also convey the message that as children, we can express views which are different from those of our parents without rebellion. Of course our reason is good, not just because we do not want to obey our parents,” explained Andre. Despite not winning the competition, ITACI and the Lenong Festival have brought together Cilincing teenagers to continue to create and spread the message to prevent child marriages.
Together with the BERDAYA Program, Andre and his friends, who are members of the small theatre in RW 06 and ITACI, will fill various advocacy activities to prevent child marriages. Among these are lenong and dance studio activities, counselling in schools for Kalibaru teenagers about the hazards and risks of marrying while still children, and in RW posts for teenagers dropping out of school. They are in the midst of initiating a campaign by putting up various creative images with the theme of the dangers of child marriages in various teenagers’ centres, including at locations where teens gather. [Hilmi/Mira]