Tag: child rights

Indonesian president urged to ban child marriage

Women’s rights activists in Indonesia are pushing President Joko Widodo to issue a presidential regulation that will make child marriage illegal in the country, where its prevalence is one of the highest in world.

They submitted on Apr. 20 their proposed draft of a presidential regulation to Widodo, in lieu of a law to prevent and abolish early marriage. Presidential spokesman Johan Budi, confirmed that the meeting took place in Bogor Palace.

Naila Rizqi Zakiah, a public attorney from Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) and one of the 18 activists invited to meet with him, said they raised three issues: Child marriage, the bill to amend the criminal code, and the bill against sexual violence.

“The first issue the president responded to was child marriage,” Zakiah said.

“We asked him to issue a presidential regulation in lieu of a law to prevent and stop child marriage. We’ve come up with a draft, and we submitted it to him for his perusal.”

She said Widodo responded “positively” to the proposal after they explained to him that child marriage could deny children their basic human rights and hinder national development.

“We submitted this draft because we think rampant child marriage in the country is an emergency situation, while the procedure in Parliament to amend the articles on the minimum age to marry in the marriage law could be lengthy,” Zakiah said.

The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection has urged Parliament to prioritize amending the 1974 marriage law to raise the minimum age for females to marry to 20 and for males to 22.

The law requires parental permission for those under 21 who want to marry. The minimum legal age for women to marry is 16, and 19 for men.

Parents can request a legal exemption from a religious court to marry children younger than that, with no limit on the minimum age.

Women’s and child rights activists have been advocating to raise the minimum legal age for females to marry to 18, in line with the child protection law that categorizes those under 18 as minors.

“It’s still not the ideal age to get married, but would be the minimum (acceptable),” said Maria Ulfa Anshor, a commissioner for the Indonesian Child Protection Commission.

“We appreciate the president’s response. We’ve been waiting for so long for this move, especially since the risks and dangers of child marriage, such as the high maternal mortality rate, are so real,” she added.

“I hope there will be no more child marriage, because the courts give exemptions to do so.”

The Constitutional Court in June 2015 rejected a request to review the marriage law and raise the legal age for girls to marry from 16 to 18.

According to UNICEF, child marriage in Indonesia is rampant, with more than one in six girls, or 340,000, getting married every year before they reach adulthood.

Child marriage is most prevalent among girls who are 16 and 17, but there has been a decline among under-15s.

The debate about banning child marriage resurfaced following media reports of a 14-year-old girl and her 15-year-old boyfriend in South Sulawesi province who sought an exemption from a religious court to get married, which they obtained. They reportedly got married on Monday.

The story was first published in Arab News

Indonesia to use chemical castration to punish child sex offenders

Indonesia is set to impose chemical castration as additional punishment for child sex offenders.

President Joko Widodo agreed on Tuesday that convicted sexual predators on children should be castrated, the Cabinet Secretariat website said.

The chairman of National Commission on Child Protection (Komnas Anak), Arist Merdeka Sirait, welcomed the decision.

He said the commission had been demanding that child sex offenders to be chemically castrated in light of rising cases of abuse in the country.

“Indonesia is in a state of emergency with regard to child sex abuse cases. These cases have been steadily increasing while our children have no proper protection and they can’t defend themselves,” Arist told The Parrot.

According to Arist, there were more than 21 million child rights violation cases from 2010 to 2014 and 58% of them were sexual abuse cases.

“With the rise of sexual abuse on children, the president agreed for suppression of sex drive [of child molester],” Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa was quoted as saying  on the Cabinet Secretariat website.

She added that the penalty would probably be stipulated in a government regulation in lieu of a law or Perpu.

Attorney General HM Prasetyo said prosecutors would seek the castration penalty once the legal basis is put in place.

“It could create a deterrent effect and [child molesters] would have to think a thousand times. It is not impossible that we will issue a Perpu,” Prasetyo was quoted as saying.

Arist said that the commission also requested that law enforcement agencies give the public authority to impose social punishment to child sex offenders by distributing their names and photos in public places.

The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) data showed that the number of child abuse cases significantly jumped from 2,178 cases in 2011 to 5,066 cases in 2014.

Under the 2002 Child Protection Law, child sex offences are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of  300 million rupiah.