More than half of women aged between 15 and 24 years old in Rembang, Central Java, get pregnant before they reach the age of 20 — revealing the worrying fact that child marriage and teenage pregnancy remain to be major problems in Indonesia.
The data came from a survey conducted by an NGO called CREDOS in the villages of Woro and Sendangmulyo in Rembang, Central Java.
The survey was part of the "Yes I Do" program managed by Rutgers WPF Indonesia, the Independent Youth Alliance (ARI) and Plan International Indonesia.
The study conducted by CREDOS Institution shows that there is a tendency to decrease the marriage age of children in Rembang. Nevertheless, on average, the marriage rate of children in these two sub-districts is still far above the national average age of marriage age.
"Around 33 percent of women in the area get married of before the age of 18. The national figure is closer to 25 percent, and in Central Java it's an even lower 20 percent," said Yes I Do Project Manager Amrullah said.
According to Amrullah, the main causes of child marriage are poverty, getting pregnant before marriage, lack of understanding of reproductive health and other sociocultural aspects.
"One in four women who were forced into child marriage said they did so at the request of their parents," he said
The study recommends training and educating children so they are more equipped for life before they get married. Especially, young women need to be taught about reproductive health so they can prevent unwanted pregnancy.
To that end, Plan International Indonesia in partnership with Rutgers WPF Indonesia and ARI have been conducting the Yes I Do program in three areas in Indonesia: Rembang, Lombok and Sukabumi.