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Child engagement video in East Java raises concerns

Jakarta Globe - April 20, 2024

Agung Dharma Putra, Sampang – The viral video of two children getting engaged in Sampang Regency, East Java, has drawn the attention of the East Java Provincial Representative of the National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN).

The video depicts a 7-year-old girl shaking hands with each of the guests who came to their house to congratulate her on her engagement.

Maria Ernawati, the Head of the East Java Provincial Representative of BKKBN, explained that child engagement is a local cultural practice in Madura intended to strengthen family ties. In 2023, there was another viral video showing two 10-year-olds getting engaged.

"Engagements take place when children are still young, but the marriage ceremony is held after the children have graduated from college. We hope that local governments will continue to educate people about the dangers of early or child marriages," said Maria Ernawati during an interview with Beritasatu.com in Surabaya on Saturday.

Erna emphasized that child marriage poses risks to health, economics, and contributes to stunting.

"The mothers are not yet mature, neither in terms of reproductive health nor mental readiness. Just imagine a child having to take care of another child," she emphasized.

Erna hopes that the number of child marriages in East Java will continue to decrease. Massive education campaigns on the importance of the legal age for marriage, conducted by all stakeholders, including the media, can raise awareness about the dangers of child marriage.

Haji Zahri and Hajah Zainab, the parents of the girl in the video, confirmed that their child is indeed engaged. They are aware that the event has gone viral on social media.

They never anticipated that their daughter's engagement ceremony, while she was still in elementary school, would attract such attention. They explained that the event is part of their commitment to tradition.

In Indonesia, one out of nine females are married by the time they turn 18, and around two-thirds of these girls are pregnant with their first child by the same age, according to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

The Indonesian government has tried to deter child marriage by introducing legislation that raised the marriageable age from 16 to 19, yet a religious court can still grant an exemption that will allow marriage from any age.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/child-engagement-video-in-east-java-raises-concern