Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government is making serious efforts to handle the early marriage issue in Indonesia, according to Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA) Bintang Puspayoga.

"We are being very serious about it. This is really dangerous," she said at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The PPPA Ministry will conduct a coordination meeting regarding early child marriage, she added.

“Later, we will have a coordination meeting. Right now, there are many issues related to children, including kidnapping, we will discuss this with existing stakeholders. Prevention is the important key," Puspayoga said.

The role of related ministries and non-ministerial government agencies (K/L) as well as regional heads is important to oversee the prevention of early child marriage, she added.

"In order to suppress it, we have also coordinated with our friends from non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the Religious Judiciary Agency as well. We discussed issues related to children including child marriage," she informed.

However, the minister did not specify the strict measures that the government will take to prevent early marriage.

"We coordinate first, then we will find the solution. We will give the detail in the near future," she said.

Based on data provided by the Surabaya Religious High Court, the number of applications for marriage dispensation in East Java province reached 15,212 in 2022.

Head of representative for the National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) for East Java province, Maria Ernawati, informed that of the 15,212 requests, 80 percent were due to pregnancy before marriage while the remaining 20 percent were for other reasons, such as arranged marriage due to economic factors.

Specifically, the number of requests for marriage dispensation made to the Ponorogo District Religious Court reached 191, with 66 requests made based on dating, 115 due to pregnancy before marriage, and 10 because the women applicants had given birth. Of the 191 cases, 176 were decided by the religious courts.

The marriage dispensation figure for 2022 showed a decline compared to 2021. Throughout 2021, there were 266 marriage dispensation requests with decisions given on 258 cases.

Meanwhile, at the Bandung Religious Court, 143 requests for marriage dispensation were filed in 2022. The number was lower than the previous years: there were 193 requests in 2021 and 219 in 2020.

The most cited reason for the dispensation was pregnancy before marriage at the age of 17–18, although some applicants were under the age of 16, and, on average, they had dropped out of elementary or junior high school.

Law Number 16 of 2019 concerning Amendments to Law Number 1 of 1974 concerning Marriage, specifically Article 7 Paragraph (1), states that marriage can only be permitted if a male and a female have reached the age of 19.

This means that males and females who are not yet 19 years old but wish to get married must seek a marriage dispensation from a religious court. The requirements for marriage dispensation include submitting proof of parents’ identity, such as identity cards, Family Cards (KK), marriage books, diploma certificates, and rejection letters from the Office of Religious Affairs (KUA).

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Translator: Desca Lidya N, Resinta S
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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