28 Jun SAY NO TO CHILD MARRIAGE
Child marriage still becomes a serious issue especially for those who are not lucky enough to continue their education. Besides that, social norms and family issue may be the cause of this “trends”. The victims, their children. Here are some reason why we should say no to child marriage.
Overview on Child Marriage in Indonesia
Child marriage is not an unfamiliar topic to discuss, including in Indonesia. Child marriage in Indonesia has become a serious problem that needs to be stopped due to many reasons. According to UNICEF, child marriage in Indonesia prevalence has been decreasing in 3.5 percentage points. That number is still extremely low if it is compared to the government’s target.
Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals 5 (Gender Equality), specifically to achieve target 5.3 –aims to eliminate all harmful practices, including child marriage by 2030— the Indonesian government set a certain number in order to decrease child marriage in Indonesia. The plan itself is listed on the National Mid-term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2020 – 2024. In that plan, the number of child marriage in Indonesia should be down from 11.2% (2018) to 8.74% by 2024, and hopefully the number will be down to 6.94% by 2030.
Why Does Child Marriage Exist?
Child marriage in Indonesia happened because certain reasons. The main reasons being the education background and family wealth status. Teens are even set to get marry before the age of 18.
Teens who do not have the chance to receive high education (not even junior-high level), often times they also do not quite have the knowledge regarding marriage. The decision can be from their parents or themselves. It can be because they are being set up for marriage by their parents. This is also the issue that often happen in my village (one of the areas in West Java). In my village, children who do not continue their education chose to work, and after some time being at work, they thought “what else should I do but get married?”, so yeah, trends in ages of marriage can be quite early in certain places.
The second cause is because their family status. Teenagers (especially girls) often get married in such a young age because they only want to lift their family status, in hoping that their family can have a better life and help with the social and economy sector of their family.
Reasons Why Child Marriage Should Be Stopped
Lesser educational attainment
The correlation between child marriage and education is not always parallel. People who get married at such a young age –even before the age of 18 and 15—tend to get lesser education, because they usually don’t continue their study to the higher level after they got married. Both men and women who got married at their teenage years have more difficulties continuing their education. Part of the reason is, when you got married, your main responsibilities are no longer to focus on your studies, yet to deal with household responsibilities.
There is always a chance to pursue their studies, but the individual must have a good management to arrange their activities as a student and as a spouse, which is not an easy thing to do. They would have to apply for a certain study program (at least in Indonesia). Not to mention that they have to deal with the society that might judge them for making the decision on getting married young.
We all are aware that people with lesser education, they less likely to have a proper job with a good income to support their family. Thus, they have a higher risk of not having a well livelihood.
Higher risk during pregnancy
Women who are pregnant on their teenage years have higher health risks than pregnant women on their 20s or 30s. The risks involve both the mother and the child. Teen pregnancy has the risk of high blood pressure. Having a high blood pressure during pregnancy is really dangerous because it can disrupt the unborn baby’s growth. It can also lead into further pregnancy complications.
Being pregnant at such a young age also has the risk of having premature birth. When a normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, a baby that’s delivered before 37 weeks is considered a premature baby. When a baby is premature, they usually weight less than they should, that is because they had less time to grow in the womb. A premature baby also has the risk of other problems including digestive, respiratory, vision, cognitive, and so on.
Decision-making is bad due to immaturity
Based on a study, a person before the age of twenty-one has not reached their maturity that affects their decision-making. It means that on making a decision, they are yet to be wise enough. Moreover, problems in marriage are obviously a lot more complicated to be handled. Both men and women who marry at an early age inclined to have less involvement in terms of decision-making. In other cases, a young girl that marries an older man also more likely to end up in divorce than other marriages.
There are a lot more reasons why child marriage should not be carried on to the following generations. I believe that young people have more potential to be improved through higher level of education and amp up their skills to be utilized in more creative ways. The attempt to end this culture involve lots of parties including the government and most importantly, parents. The government can change a certain rule regarding the legal age for marriage, meanwhile for the parents, there should be some kind of a seminar about social norms related to child marriage.
image source: magdalene
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