UNICEF welcomes the recommendation issued by the Indonesian Women’s Ulema Congress to end child marriage and to raise the legal marriage age for girls from 16 to 18.
The congress of respected female Islamic clerics, the first of its kind in Indonesia which took place in Cirebon in West Java, urged an amendment to the 1974 Marriage Law, which allows girls to be married from age 16.
The recommendation calls upon parents, educators, society and government to share responsibility to end the “harmful” practice of child marriage, saying it limits the education, health, income opportunities and safety of adolescent girls. Preventing girls from getting married before adulthood should therefore be “mandatory”.
The Marriage Law sets a minimum age for marriage of 21 years. However, with the parents’ consent, boys are allowed to marry from age 19, while girls can already marry at the age 16. Parents can ask a religious court or a district court for an exemption for their daughter to marry even earlier, with no minimum age limit.