This is a response to the Constitutional Court’s recent rejection to the petition to raise women’s minimum age for marriage. If you have a counterargument, a reinterpretation or just a longish response to any of our articles or any issue (but not long enough for an article), please write to “Your Feedback” column.
I really regret the Constitutional Court’s rejection to a petition to raise women’s minimum age for marriage, which is currently set at 16 by the 1974 Marriage Law, to 18 years old.
The Court ruled that age is not the main factor behind social issues occurring in marriages. But simply by raising the minimum age of marriage, the state will no longer give a legal basis for acts of pedophilia.
Article 1 (5) in Law No. 39/1999 on Human Rights, Law No. 23/2002 on Child’s Protection, Law No. 44/2008 on Pornography, Law No. 12/2006 on Indonesian Citizenship, Law No. 21/2007 on the Eradication of Trafficking Crime – all stipulate that “a child is every human being aged below 18 years old”. Pedophilia itself is categorized as a sexual perversion in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, and, amazingly, Indonesia gives pedophilia a legal basis through the Marriage Law.
Another problem caused by under-age marriage is divorce. The Constitutional Court argued that divorces are not caused by the young age of women, but it is in fact a major factor in divorce. A young couple is not mature enough to decide on their lives, let alone their lives with someone else, and to maintain a marriage to last a lifetime with all the responsibilities that come with it.
Is it true that the minimum age of marriage does not affect the high mortality rate of mothers and children in Indonesia? Quite the opposite. Logically, couples who are married at mature age can plan pregnancy and the period between each pregnancy, and the women are physically and psychologically more prepared for reproduction. Studies show that the uterus is only “ready” to be fertilized when a woman hits 20 years old. Being pregnant and delivering a baby before the uterus’ maturity increases the risk of a baby being born with a defect, and it affects the mother’s psychological health.
In terms of education, a women who will become the mother and the first educator of her child, will have the opportunity to obtain better education if she doesn’t marry young.
Simply by increasing the minimum age of marriage for women, the state will ensure a fair treatment for women as citizens. Women are vital for the nation. Educating women means educating the entire nation. Changing the minimum age of marriage will, therefore, affect the destiny of women and Indonesia.
Nadyazura studies history at the University of Indonesia. She likes to learn like she likes herself. You can email her at [email protected] or find her on Twitter @Nadyazura.