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Indonesian wedding planners reported to police for promoting child marriage

The Independent - February 12, 2021

Shweta Sharma – A wedding planning company in Indonesia has come under fire for encouraging child marriages of girls as young as twelve years old, sparking outrage in the country.

A criminal investigation has been launched against the wedding planner, Aisha Weddings, after a complaint was lodged by the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI).

The matchmaking website promoted marriages of young Muslim women below the legal of 19 on their websites and advertisements.

Its promotional material asked prospective brides and their families to "get married" at 12-21 years of age "to be pleasing to Allah and your husband".

"You must depend on a man as early as possible for a stable and happy family. Don't be a burden for your parents, find a man earlier!" the private firm said on its website.

It asked parents to marry off their daughters early for "a better life" and prevent their children from the "sin" of them being exposed to sexual content online.

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country and has the eighth highest number of child marriages in the world. The country has been fighting poverty, ideas of family honour, social norms, customs and religious laws, factors responsible for child marriages.

The Indonesian parliament raised the legal age of marriage for girls from 16 to 19 by making amendment in the Marriage Act in September, 2019. Despite the legislation, religious courts can issue exceptions under Islamic law.

According to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef), about 14 per cent of women in Indonesia are married even before they turn 18 and 1 per cent are married before the age of 15.

The website and its social media page were taken down following an outcry.

The Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection denounced the company's attempt to promote child marriages, countering efforts by the government in preventing the practices that violate the rights of children.

"It violated and ignored the government in protecting and preventing children from becoming victims of violence and exploitation", Minister Bintang Puspayoga said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Aisha Weddings has been unsettling not only for the government, but also the public, because it has influenced young minds that getting married is easy," she added.

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/indonesia-wedding-planner-child-marriage-b1801426.htm