Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi has called Indonesia’s family planning program a failure for its inability to control the country’s fertility rate.“In 2012, the fertility rate in Indonesia was still at 2.6, which means our family planning program over the last 10 years has failed,” Nafsiah said on Tuesday in Batam, as quoted by the state-run Antara news agency.
As mentioned in the country’s Millennium Development Goals, Indonesia aimed to reduce its fertility rate to 2.1 by 2014. The rate indicates the average amount of births per Indonesian woman.
“Currently, instances of early marriage are increasing, and teenagers under 20 years old are sexually active,” she said, noting that rural areas were more likely to produce child brides.
“Early marriage increases the risk of mothers dying in labor, since they are giving birth to a baby when their reproductive organs are not fully developed,” she said.
Previously, Sudibyo Alimoeso, the acting chief of the National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN), voiced concern over Indonesia’s high maternal mortality rate, which recently reached 17,520 cases per year, or two people per hour. He attributed child marriage as one of the contributing factors to the number.
The BKKBN set up an information and counseling campaign to provide more information about the risks of childbirth for sexually immature women, though the program has only been introduced in non-Islamic schools.
Though the country has seen a major decline in its number of child brides, 22 percent of Indonesian women aged 20 to 24 were married before the age of 18, according to a United Nations report.
The report, called “Marrying Too Young,” was released in October of last year by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to mark the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. It warned that 142 million girls worldwide could be married before the age of 18 within the next decade if current global trends continued.
From 2000 to 2011, the report noted, an estimated 34 percent of women aged 20 to 24 in developing regions were married or in union before their 18th birthday.
“In 2010 this was equivalent to almost 67 million women. About 12 percent were married or in union before age 15,” it said.
It also identified Indonesia as one of 48 countries worldwide where the prevalence of child marriages had declined by more than 10 percent in recent years, but noted that the prevalence still remained high, particularly in rural areas.