Ending Child Marriage in Indonesia: The Role of Courts
Source TitleCILIS Policy Paper Series
PublisherCentre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne Author/sTaylor, Kathryn
AffiliationCentre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society
Document TypeWorking Paper
CitationsSumner, C. (2020). Ending Child Marriage in Indonesia: The Role of Courts. Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
UNICEF and Statistics Indonesia (BPS) estimate that one in nine girls in Indonesia (11 per cent) marry before they have reached 18 years of age, placing Indonesia in the top ten countries in the world for numbers of child brides. This compares with just one in a hundred boys in Indonesia who marry before 18. In September 2019, the Indonesian legislature agreed to revise the 1974 Marriage Law to raise the age at which parents may provide their consent to marry their daughters, from 16 to 19 years, making it the same age for both boys and girls. This legislative amendment implements a decision of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia of December 2018 in a case brought by three women applicants who had been married as girls. However, the amendment to the 45-year old Marriage Law does not alter the fact that there is still no absolute minimum age of marriage set by legislation in Indonesia, because parents are still able to apply to the Indonesian courts for dispensation to marry sons or daughters under the age of 19 years. The paper reviews research findings recently published by the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice based on an analysis of over 1,000 marriage dispensation cases and half a million divorce cases in Indonesia. UNICEF estimates that two million Indonesian girls under the age of 19 are married each year in Indonesia. Instead of being the point at which a judge simply grants or denies dispensation for a girl or boy to marry, the 14,000 marriage dispensation cases that currently come to the courts could instead be the point at which a range of integrated counselling, legal, education, scholarship and reproductive health services are mobilised to ensure that girls and boys in Indonesia benefit from 12 years of education and defer having children until they are over 18.. This paper proposes a number of recommendations that would improve the ability of judges to accurately assess the views of boys and girls when considering marriage dispensation cases in Indonesia.
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