A girl plays in front of her house in Menoro village, Rembang, Central Java. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

Girls Not Brides Joins Hands With Local NGOs to End Child Marriage in Indonesia


MARCH 08, 2018

Jakarta. Girls Not Brides will join hands with local civil society groups to develop strategies to end child marriage in Indonesia, which is among the countries with the highest number of child brides.

The global partnership of more than 900 non-governmental organizations from around the world has six members in Indonesia.

"If you look at the rate [of child marriage in Indonesia], it is not that high. But if you look at the numbers, because Indonesia is a highly populated country, it ranks seventh in the world, while India is number one," Girls Not Brides head of Asia engagement, Shipra Jha, told the Jakarta Globe during an interview in Jakarta on Thursday (08/03).

She said the group's current visit to Indonesia is for learning purposes, before it starts to develop actual engagement strategies.

"After a few months, we will go back and decide and analyze everything that we have done in the past weeks here. And then, we'll probably have another in-depth meeting to develop action plans for us to work in Indonesia."

According to Shipra, everyone has to "make a big noise" about the problem, because around the world at least 12 million girls are married off as minors every year.

"It is a big number. It's pulling our countries back, it's pulling Asia back. It's keeping us in poverty," she said.

Data from the the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) indicate that one in nine Indonesian girls gets married before she turns 18 — approximately 375 girls marry every a day.

They are exposed to greater risk of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.

Shipra said Girls Not Brides will need to develop strategies that are context-sensitive, as in each of Indonesia's 33 provinces the reasons for child marriage are different.

"We went to Lombok [West Nusa Tengara] and we were talking to people from Java. It seems like each provinces has different drives. We really need to have a strategy which looks at the local context," she said, adding that she is aware that the government has acknowledged the problem and is committed to end it.

Indonesia recognizes the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include the elimination of gender-based violence and child marriage.