Jakarta (ANTARA) - The National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) is collaborating with the Nahdlatul Ulama Teachers Association (Pergunu) to raise awareness about the dangers of child marriage and educate communities about stunting reduction.

"The lack of educated parents and weak economic conditions are considered to be the cause of the high number of child marriages," BKKBN Head Hasto Wardoyo said in Jakarta on Thursday.

This reality brings an impact on biological well-being, especially for women. When they marry young, their bodies are not mature enough to give birth and have the potential to contribute to the number of babies born stunted, he added.

Child marriage is one of the causes behind the birth of stunted babies, he noted. Moreover, handling stunted babies is more complicated than preventing stunting, he said.

Therefore, to intensify education on preventing the birth of stunted babies, his agency has invited Indonesia's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) to open a pre-marital class, in collaboration with the Office of Religious Affairs (KUA) under the Religious Affairs Ministry.

According to Wardoyo, if Pergunu conducts a pre-marital class pilot project targeting 1.9 million prospective brides and grooms, the class could be started in a province with a dense population such as Central Java.

"In three months, the class can be started with several meetings. Followed by a basic medical examination by a general practitioner. The results will be included in the Ready for Marriage and Ready for Pregnancy electronic application (Elsimil) to issue the certificate," he explained.

Meanwhile, Pergunu Secretary General Aris Adi Leksono said child marriage can be caused by a lack of proper parenting.

According to him, some parents do not pay attention to their children's well-being and their development according to their age.

Misleading cultural perspectives on marriage believed to guarantee the wealth of descendants also have a negative impact on children's future, Leksono noted.

Not to mention, the fear of pre-marital pregnancy during dating makes parents keen to get their children married early, he said.

Based on these findings, his party is aiming to support the accelerated stunting reduction program through teachers, lecturers, and religious teachers in schools and Islamic boarding schools through education and sermons that can increase public concern about stunting.

"We have a massive following. We are spread in 35 provinces, 417 districts/cities, and 10 thousand representatives at the sub-district level. We are currently working to form branches at the village level, especially in Central Java and East Java," he said.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma S, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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