Tag: Indonesian Child Protection Commission

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

Doctors refuse to administer castration under Jokowi’s law

Indonesia’s medical  association said Thursday its members would refuse to administer chemical castration for child sex offenders, giving another blow to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s emergency decree issued last month allowing such punishment.

The Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) distanced themselves from the policy, although they said they shared Jokowi’s views that sexual offence against children is an extraordinary crime and supported policies that impose tougher punishment for child rape.

“With the additional punishment such as chemical castration that suggests assigning doctors as executors, IDI asked, based on the Honorary Council of Medical Ethics’ fatwa, which also refers to the Doctor ‘s Oath and Indonesian Doctors’ Code of Ethics, that its implementation does not involve doctors as executor,” IDI chairman Ilham Oetama Marsis said in the statement.

Ilham suggested the government seek other forms of additional punishment, saying scientific evidence showed chemical castration did not reduce predators’ sexual drives.

According to the new regulation in lieu of law, chemical castration will be carried out against an offender for a period of up to two years after the convict has undergone a prison term. Offenders below the age of 18 are not subject to this punishment.

Rights activists lauded the doctors’ stance, saying that the policy was made prematurely and without thorough consultations with various stakeholders including psychiatric and medical experts.

“IDI’s statement is a real blow for the government. The government’s choice to make this decision without further study and analysis and without involving those with medical and psychiatric competencies was a fatal move,” head of rights advocacy group Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono said.

Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said IDI’s statement showed mounting refusal to this policy was not without grounds and it should serve as a lesson to the government to open public participation in its policy making, so that the policy could touch on the real problems on the ground and executable.

“We reaffirmed that our refusal to chemical castration does not mean we tolerate sexual offences. Such crimes, especially against children, should be banished and severely punished but it doesn’t mean that we have to disregard human rights and human values,” said Muhammad Hafiz, executive director of HRWG.

The government regulation in lieu of law, or Perppu would be an amendment to the 2002 Child Protection Law, which punished child sex offenders by up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of  300 million rupiah. It stipulates child sex offenders who cause their victims to suffer serious injuries, mental disorders, infectious diseases, the loss or malfunction of the reproductive organs and/or death to have additional, tougher punishment, which includes forced chemical castration.

The National Commission on Child Protection (Komnas Anak) had campaigned for such a decree, saying that Indonesia is in a state of emergency with regard to child sex abuse. 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.

The House of Representatives is yet to deliberate the Perppu before it is passed into law, but Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly has said that the Perppu is effective immediately after it was signed by the president.