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Dilema Hukum Dalam Kawin Anak

KOMPAS, 6 Februari 2018 – Dalam pencegahan perkawinan anak di Indonesia, aspek hukum tampaknya menjadi titik paling lemah. Pada praktiknya isbat nikah (menikah kembali di depan pejabat negara) atau dispensasi nikah merupakan peluang perkawinan anak yang semula ilegal menjadi legal. Lebih dari itu, keduanya merupakan bentuk pengakuan diam-diam atas praktik hukum non-negara yang seharusnya secara tegas dinyatakan ilegal dan bersanksi hukum bagi pelanggarnya.

Secara historis, eksistensi hukum non-negara, seperti hukum adat dan agama, tak lepas dari fakta kekayaan hukum yang hidup di Indonesia sejak sebelum kolonialis membawa konsep hukum sebagai konsekuensi dari negara modern.

Para penasihat negara jajahan seperti Snouck Hurgronje, terlebih ahli hukum Islam, Van den Berg, memberi jaminan bahwa penerapan hukum adat dan agama oleh warga jajahan tak akan memicu pemberontakan.

Sebaliknya pemerintah penjajah dapat memperoleh empati dan memanfaatkannya sebagai bentuk tindakan etis kepada warga jajahan. Oleh karena itu, kemudian muncul istilah pluralisme hukum, sebuah bentuk pengakuan kepada praktik hukum adat dan hukum agama, terutama untuk isu keluarga, termasuk perkawinan, warisan, dan wakaf.

Dominasi dan tirani hukum

Di era Orde Baru, upaya untuk tetap memberlakukan hukum adat dan agama sebagai sumber hukum yang setara dengan hukum negara terus diadvokasikan. Terutama dalam kaitannya untuk perlindungan kepada kelompok adat yang mempertahankan hukum adat mereka untuk melindungi hak ulayat/komunal atas tanah adat. Para aktivis memperjuangkan keberlakuan pluralisme hukum untuk menghindari kesewenang-wenangan dan dominasi hukum yang dimanfaatkan untuk pencaplokan tanah adat atas nama konsesi.

Nuansa politik yang mendasarinya jelas berbeda. Jika pada masa kolonial pluralisme hukum diberlakukan dalam rangka penjinakan kepada warga bumiputra, dalam era Orde Baru keragaman hukum merupakan bentuk perlindungan kepada suku dan kelompok adat yang sangat rentan terhadap okupasi negara atas nama pembangunan ekonomi.

Namun, dalam kaitannya dengan hukum keluarga, negara berusaha melakukan unifikasi hukum melalui Undang-Undang Perkawinan (UUP) No 1 Tahun 1974 dan penerapan Kompilasi Hukum Islam (KHI) melalui Instruksi Presiden No 1 Tahun 1991. Melalui kedua peraturan itu, warga negara, tak terkecuali umat Islam, diwajibkan tunduk kepada hukum nasional sekaligus menegaskan otoritas hukum negara atas hukum agama.

Berbeda dari isu agraria, di mana pluralisme hukum diupayakan dan dibela oleh para aktivis keadilan dalam rangka melindungi suku asli dan kelompok adat yang benar-benar tergantung kepada alam, dalam isu keluarga, pluralisme hukum  yang memberi ruang kepada hukum adat dan agama (fikih) sebenarnya tak menjadi agenda perjuangan. Sebaliknya para aktivis hukum lebih bersetuju pada adanya pengaturan yang diterapkan negara.

Dalam konteks ini Prof Barry Hooker, ahli mengenai hukum Islam dari Australia, kemudian memperkenalkan konsep hukum besar dan hukum kecil untuk membedakan tingkatan sumber hukum antara hukum negara dan hukum agama (fikih) dalam menyelesaikan perkara keluarga. Bagi Hooker, yang terpenting hukum yang kecil harus tunduk kepada hukum yang besar.

Pandangan seperti ini sebenarnya telah pula diberlakukan melalui undang-undang yang mewajibkan keberlakuan hierarki hukum di mana Undang-Undang Dasar (UUD) 1945 dan hukum nasional harus menjadi pokok landasan hukum dan UU atau peraturan yang ada di bawahnya. Dengan hierarki itu, hukum adat/agama tidak dibenarkan bertentangan dengan keputusan atau hukum negara yang berposisi di atasnya.

Namun, tampaknya, dalam debat-debat teori pluralisme hukum sama sekali tak terbayangkan bahwa hukum komunal/hukum adat/hukum agama bisa digdaya menghadapi hukum negara yang dibangun oleh konsep negara modern pascakolonial.

Pengakuan akan keberlakuan pluralisme hukum yang semula bertujuan untuk memberi pengakuan dan proteksi kepada hukum komunal/hukum adat/hukum agama agar tak terintimidasi atau tertindas oleh hukum negara bisa berbalik menjadi dominasi hukum atau minimal kontestasi hukum. Hal yang tak diperhitungkan adalah lanskap di mana tatanan hukum itu membutuhkan prasyarat.

Pluralisme hukum meniscayakan hanya bisa diterapkan dalam masyarakat yang demokratis, egaliter, mengandalkan filsafat hukum bukan semata keyakinan,  dan diterapkan dalam relasi-relasi sosial yang setara atau bercita-cita setara.  Sebaliknya, dalam masyarakat yang tidak egaliter, tidak demokratis, tidak percaya kepada kesetaraan, konsep pularisme hukum bisa menjadi tirani. Hukum yang kecil ternyata dapat memenjarakan hukum yang besar.

Hal ini disebabkan oleh adanya kontestasi hukum di mana hukum agama diposisikan lebih utama ketimbang hukum negara, dengan alasan sumber hukumnya lebih sakral. Hal ini terbukti dari pembenaran praktik kawin anak yang selalu kembali ke sumber hukum teks fikih dan ini diterima sebagai hukum.

Untuk mengatasi persoalan ini, sebagaimana diusulkan Prof Sulistyowati Irianto dari Universitas Indonesia, pluralisme hukum seharusnya terbuka pada hukum-hukum baru dan global seperti konvensi-konvensi internasional yang berbasis hak asasi manusia (HAM) sekaligus sebagai alat koreksi terhadap hukum adat bilamana terbukti mencederai rasa keadilan.

Tidak tegas soal batas usia

Dalam kaitannya dengan upaya menolak praktik kawin anak; konvensi hak anak, konvensi antidiskriminasi terhadap perempuan harus menjadi landasan hukum yang lebih kuat.

Stjin van Huis, peneliti tentang hukum keluarga Islam  dari Belanda, melalui penelitiannya di Peradilan Agama di Cianjur dan Bulukumba, mengatakan bahwa dalam kaitannya dengan perkawinan anak, hukum yang hidup di masyarakat termasuk norma-norma tetap bisa menjadi rujukan hakim dalam memberikan dispensasi asal ada ketegasan soal batasan umur minimal.

Masalahnya, di Indonesia tidak ada batas usia minimum untuk pengajuan dispensasi sehingga diskresi pemberian dispensasi sangat besar. Dengan demikian, pada kasus perkawinan anak, negara tampaknya tidak memiliki ketegasan dalam mengimplementasikan batas usia seperti yang diatur dalam UU Perkawinan. Ini menunjukkan peran hukum agama yang berlaku dalam masyarakat di luar hukum negara masih sangat besar atau bahkan semakin besar mengiringi lanskap politik keagaan di ruang publik yang makin konservatif.

Padahal, sebagaimana ditegaskan Michael Pelatz dalam bukunya, Islamic Modern: Religious Courts and Cultural Politics in Malaysia, hukum keluarga serta implementasinya oleh pengadilan agama sebagai institusi negara yang berwenang sangat penting keberadaannya untuk menciptakan warga negara modern (national citizens) yang merujuk pada hukum nasional dan hak-hak individual; dan pada waktu yang sama dapat membebaskan individu—khususnya perempuan— dari ikatan primordial suku, adat istiadat, etnisitas, dan jender yang dipandangnya tidak adil.

Lies Marcoes  Koordinator Program Berdaya, Rumah KitaB

Merebut Tafsir: Kelembagaan Penopang Kawin Anak

Perbaikan regulasi seperti menaikkan usia kawin adalah usaha penting tapi tetap tak menyasar akar masalah. Penelitian Rumah KitaB berulang kali membuktikan tentang kelembagaan penopang kawin anak. Dari semua kelembagaan yang terlibat dalam proses perkawinan anak, tak satu pun yang menggunakan sistem hukum atau pengetahuan adat mereka guna untuk mencegah peristiwa itu. Tiadanya upaya untuk menolak atau mencegah perkawinan anak oleh kelembagaan-kelembagaan hukum atau kultural di tingkat desa, sesungguhnya bisa dibaca bahwa dalam upaya-upaya pencegahan itu, mereka anggap tidak (akan) menguntungkan baik finansial maupun moral.

Sebaliknya, ketika perhelatan itu bisa digelar tak peduli kawin bocah, sesederhana apapun perhelatan itu, para pihak yang terlibat, minimal akan mendapatkan makanan selamatan, rokok, upah dan ungkapan terima kasih. Hal yang utama adalah mereka merasa telah menjadi penyelamat muka keluarga dan dusun.

Di dalam situasi itu kita melihat bahwa perkawinan anak bukan hanya disebabkan oleh kemiskinan secara fisik dan karenanya setiap pergerakan uang sekecil apapun dari terjadinya perkawinan anak adalah rejeki, tetapi juga miskin imaginasi dan pemahaman tentang sistem hukum serta imbalan yang akan diterima oleh kelembagaan-kelembagaan itu jika berhasil mencegahnya.

Upaya untuk memberi manfaat langsung atau nilai keuntungan bagi mereka yang mencegah perkawinan anak harus lebih nyata, bukan lagi sekedar imbalan moril. Bisakan pahala sorga bagi mereka yang berhasil mencegah kawin anak jadi materi khutbah, materi ceramah, materi dakwah dan materi jihad? [Lies Marcoes]

Sumber: http://rumahkitab.com/merebut-tafsir-kelembagaan-penopang-kawin-anak/

In Indonesia, educating child brides remains a tough challenge

A groundbreaking report by UNICEF and the Indonesian government found that girls marrying before the age of 18 were at least six times less likely to complete senior secondary education compared to their unmarried peers.

SUMENEP REGENCY, Indonesia: Every morning, Dewi Khalifah greets students at the Islamic boarding school she runs, as they make their way to class.

The school, Aqidah Usymuni, is currently home to about 800 boys and girls who are housed on separate properties.

Lessons are held from 7am until 1pm, followed by Quranic studies at 3pm.

Students conclude the day with further religious studies before turning in for the night.

A student greets Dewi Khalifah in the morning. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

But this school isn’t like other schools in East Java province’s Sumenep Regency.

In fact, it is one of a handful of schools in the regency which encourages students to pursue their studies instead of getting married before the age of 18 – something that close to 70 per cent of the people in the regency have done, according to research done in June by an non-government organisation, the Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation.

EDUCATION VS MARRIAGE

Child marriage is rampant in Indonesia.

A report launched in July this year by the government of Indonesia and UNICEF showed that over one in four girls married before reaching adulthood.

The report is the first of its kind for the country – it uses government data to set a baseline for monitoring progress on key sustainable development goals and targets for Indonesia’s 84 million children.

It showed that girls marrying before the age of 18 were at least six times less likely to complete senior secondary education compared to their unmarried peers.

Lessons are held from seven in the morning until one in the afternoon. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

It is also not uncommon to see child brides in Indonesia being discriminated against in schools.

Local media carry reports of students being turned away from public schools upon their marriage, despite no official laws requiring them to do so.

Experts in Madura’s salt-producing Sumenep Regency tell Channel NewsAsia that such is the situation in the regency as well.

There is also the issue of deep-rooted patriarchal views, which place women in a domestic setting, thus restricting child brides from continuing their education if they marry young.

SCHOOL FOR EVERYONE

According to Lies Marcoes Natsir, executive director for the Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation, facts on the ground have shown that if a girl marries before completing high school, chances are, she may never go on to complete it.

This is contrary to the way boys in the same situation are treated, who are still able to continue their studies post-marriage.

“Well it’s different; I will stop studying after I complete high school … I would’ve liked to have gone to college if I didn’t marry. But because I am married, I can’t,” said Sariyatun with a laugh.

The 17-year-old is joined by her friends as she shares her experiences, several of whom are younger than her and married, just like her.

The girls are all students at the Mambaul Ulum Institution, an institution in Sumenep that doesn’t believe children should stop studying simply because of marriage.

The Mambaul Ulum Institute has a total of about 200 students. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

The institution admits not just boys who are married but girls as well.

“They can study here on the condition that they are not pregnant. What happens then if they become pregnant? Well, we exempt them until they give birth,” said Fathol Haliq, founder of the Mambaul Ulum Foundation.

After a girl delivers her baby, she can come back to the school and complete earning her diploma, which she can then use to get a job in the event that she has an opportunity to work.

“We are providing them with an alternative means of education to empower them, so that they do not become victims of the cultural system that is deeply rooted in the practice,” Fathol added.

Founder of the Mambaul Ulum Institute, Fathol Haliq, speaks to a student. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani)

Over at Aqidah Usymuni, the efforts are slightly different, but the goals are the same – that a girl shouldn’t have to give up education over matrimony – but not every parent is comfortable with that idea.

“In Sumenep, everyone is afraid of remaining unmarried,” said Sumarni, whose daughter is a student at the school and recently turned 17 years old.

“By 17, girls themselves want to be married. I also have plans to marry my daughter off; I want to get her engaged, but Dewi Khalifah says my daughter is to continue studying at the boarding school, she can’t marry yet.”

Dewi took over managing the Islamic boarding school from her mother, who established the school to empower women. She explained that her mother was married off at 10 years old, and at that time the culture in Sumenep forbade women from obtaining an education.

Her mother sought to make a difference, and Dewi herself actively encourages her students to continue their studies and refrain from marrying as well, until they are at the very least 18 years of age.

Students who do get married receive support.

Aqidah Usymuni is the only Islamic boarding school in the entire regency which provides scholarships for children who marry, so that they may continue their education even after their nuptials.

Girls at Aqidah Usymuni make their way to class. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

The scholarship has greatly benefitted students like Ahmad Dardiri and his wife Misnama.

The two married young – he at 18 and her, at 16. The policy allows the couple to not only pursue their education, but to do it together.

“Traditionally in Madura, if you have to pay a fee to study and if you have to choose one between husband and wife, the husband is prioritised,” said Ahmad.

“A wife is still synonymous with the kitchen, you know; it’s only the husband who can continue his education, so we are breaking this ‘Madura culture’.”

Ladies with food baskets balancing on their heads carry supplies into the Aqidah Usymuni Islamic boarding school’s girl’s wing. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

Tradition dictates that a woman’s place is at home, caring for her husband and children.

Completely erasing the patriarchal culture painted in tradition isn’t possible, lamented Dewi, as there are a number of factors dictating its practice including economic conditions, which also influence how families conduct themselves.

“Because once a girl is married, she isn’t her family’s responsibility anymore,” said Ms Dewi.

The educational background of parents also matter, particularly if they come from lower-educated backgrounds.

“They feel that, ‘I got married as a child so why shouldn’t my child do the same?’” Dewi said. “It saddens my heart that they still enforce this practice on their children.”

STUDYING AS A SOLUTION

Reports published last year by the National Statistics Agency supported by UNICEF showed that women who were married between the ages of 15 and 19 had a lower level of school participation compared to those who weren’t married.

Indonesia has committed to achieving its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, its aims include eliminating all harmful practices against girls and women including child marriage.

The report launched by the government of Indonesia and UNICEF showed that 12 per cent of women – 1.2 million – nationwide aged 20-24 years were married or in union before the age of 18 in 2015.

A group of married girls sit together at Mambaul Ulum Institute after speaking to Channel NewsAsia. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

Earlier this year, Marta Santos Pais, special representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children met with President Joko Widodo and several ministers at the State Palace in Jakarta.

Pais discussed children’s protection from violence and its role in national development, and raised the issue of child marriage.

Minister of Education and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy who was reportedly present at that meeting, explained that the government has a 12-year compulsory education programme in place.

He told reporters after the meeting that this was one way the government is trying to curb child marriage.

Effendy said the ideal age for someone to marry was above the age of 17 – this way, a boy or girl who completed the compulsory 12-year education programme would automatically be 18 years old.

Bringing the issue to public notice is one way to overcome it, but a more definitive solution would be to legally revise the rules of marriage and keep children in school for a longer period of time, according to observers.

“There should be local regulations governed by the executive and legislative branch that children should no longer marry at the age of 16 or 18; but at the very minimum, they should possess a college degree,” said Aqidah Usymuni’s Dewi.

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/in-indonesia-educating-child-brides-remains-a-tough-challenge-9488280

‘It’s tradition’: The child brides of Indonesia’s Sumenep Regency

SUMENEP REGENCY, Indonesia: Bold makeup in hues of red and black lined their eyes, hair adorned with buds of jasmine, a bejewelled golden plate rested upon their foreheads, while more gold complemented vibrant clothing cinched at their waists.

Their small hands were intricately lined with a type of dye resembling henna; and while they looked like miniature human dolls, their faces were glum.

Shifty-eyed, fidgety and trying to keep their nervousness in check, these are the child brides and grooms of Sumenep Regency at their wedding.

Both the brides and grooms have bold makeup on their faces. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

Getting to Sumenep is no easy feat. The regency is 170km away from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, on the island of Madura.

You’ll have to fly from Jakarta to Surabaya, which could take anywhere between 75 and 90 minutes and then embark on a four-hour drive; this is how we found ourselves driving into the regency one morning, passing dozens of salt farms along the way.

A RECEPTION TO REMEMBER

The children, six of them, were at their wedding reception being held at a field with a large tent in the district of Dungkek.

According to guests, the children had just married that morning – the oldest was a fourteen-year-old boy who married a 13-year-old; the youngest, a four-year-old child, was wed to a five-year-old boy, and the last couple were a pair of six-year-olds.

Parents of the brides and grooms took turns between standing at the entrance of the tent to welcome guests and accompany their children, who sat quietly on the sidelines of a feast held in their honour.

The youngest child at the wedding reception was a 4 year-old girl. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

Alimatus Sadya, a mother of one of the brides explained that child marriage is commonplace in Madura.

“If anyone asks for the hand of your first child in marriage, you have to agree,” she said.

Her daughter, the oldest bride at thirteen years old, lurched forward and retched as she struggled to keep her emotions at bay. She was quickly pacified by Ms Alimatus and others around her.

The space under the tent was divided into two sections, one for men and the other for women.

Plush velvet sofas with golden frames sat atop a stage on one end. This is where guests were taking photos with the newlyweds prior to the feast.

A 13-year old child bride attempts to hide her emotions at by the side of her stage at her wedding reception. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

A band positioned at the centre of the tent played traditional music and female dancers were putting on a show for the men, dancing closely with them while being showered with rupiah bills.

A group of men and women in each section were also huddled together as they made a note of every gift that the families of the children received, both of monetary and non-monetary value.

Another parent, Fitri, who goes by one name as many Indonesians do, explained that the children had been matched by their parents – her son and daughter had both been married off.

“Well, over here it’s like that, they’re married off at a young age; it’s tradition,” she said with a laugh. “I am so happy.”

EMBEDDED IN TRADITION

In 2016, the National Statistics Agency supported by UNICEF launched two reports on child marriage.

The report showed that the rate of child marriage in Indonesia remains high, with over one in four girls marrying before reaching adulthood.

Based on data from 2008 to 2015, the percentage of “ever-married” women aged 20 to 24 who married before the age of 18 across 33 provinces in Indonesia ranked by average prevalence, placed West Sulawesi in the top spot, while East Java ranked 14th.

Research done in June this year by an NGO, the Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation, showed that close to 70 per cent of the people in Madura’s Sumenep regency married before the age of 18.

The district of Dungkek had the highest number of child marriages in the regency, with about 80 per cent of its nearly 4,000 people – as per national population records in 2015 – having married as children.

Executive director for the foundation, Lies Marcoes Natsir, said that in Sumenep, it is usually because parents want a debt repaid.

“The people have a tradition, usually if they throw a party, they receive a lot of support from their neighbours – and this is a reciprocal occurrence, actually,” she explained.

Guests lay money on the floor for dancers at the wedding reception of the six children. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

“So, they can throw a party because other people owe them a debt. Now, this has been in practice for a very long time, their ancestors did this and they always make a note,” said Lies.

“So if one family has a child, and they feel they want to collect what is owed to them from their neighbours – to whom they have already provided some sort of support – ‘tumpangan’ is what they call it – they will organise the marriage of their child, even if the child is still little.”

According to Lies, one of Indonesia’s foremost experts in Islam and gender as well as a women’s rights activist, the goal is to collect a debt.

So, in the event of a drought for example, or in times of financial difficulty, families tend to get their children betrothed and organise a party.

A guest at the wedding reception showers a dancer with rupiah bills. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

In the case of younger children, the marriage is known as a “hanging betrothal”.

This arrangement means that while their marriage has been solemnised, they are “promised” to each other.

The children will only live together as husband and wife when they are deemed to be old enough by their parents to do so, which could be when they are as young as 14 years old.

Until then, the children live separately and continue their education, only for the “husband” to visit his “wife” during holidays and religious celebrations.

A SECRET AFFAIR

Fifteen-year-old Uus (not her real name) married her boyfriend last year when she was just 14. He was 19 at the time and he had asked her parents for her hand in marriage. The two had known each other for a year.

“We were only married by a religious teacher … compared to just being boyfriend and girlfriend, such an unclear status, it’s better to have something that is certain,” she said, a reason which resonated with several of the child brides Channel NewsAsia spoke to.

Traditional music accompanies the newlyweds as they ride out of the party compound on horses. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

Muslim marriages in Indonesia must be registered at the government’s Religious Affairs Office (KUA), something Uus and her husband have not done. This means that the two do not have a marriage certificate.

“We haven’t gone to the religious office; I’m not legal yet,” said Uus.

What the young couple have done is known as “nikah siri”, which translates to mean unregistered or secret marriages – this is highly prevalent in Sumenep.

Indonesia’s 2002 Law on Child Protection prohibits marriage under the age of 18 under any circumstances, and such a marriage cannot be registered at the Religious Affairs Office.

But the country’s marriage laws are murky. Under the 1974 Marriage Law, which sets the legal parameters for marriage in the country, parental consent is required for all marriages under the age of 21.

With parental consent, girls can legally marry at the minimum age of 16 and boys at 19, providing they obtain approval from the religious court.

Parents can also file a petition at the religious court or district court to apply for an exemption and get their daughter to marry even earlier, with no minimum age limit, pending an approval.

“Well, if possible, we approve their request if the bride is 16 years old, because they are already mentally mature, so I think it’s okay,” Risana Yulinda, head of the religious court in Sumenep Regency told Channel NewsAsia.

“But sometimes in the event that the child is two months, three months shy of turning 16, we’ll also approve the request because it’s just a little bit of time,”

With parental consent, girls can legally marry at the minimum age of 16 in Indonesia. (Photo: AFP/ STR) 

Applications to marry off children below the age of 16 years were assessed on a case-by-case basis, she said.

“Are they Muslims? Are there any obstacles to the relationship such as them being siblings? Is there a proposal from someone else? If they marry, is their husband ready to provide for them? Are they pregnant? These are all factors that we consider,” said Risana.

But anecdotal evidence suggests that many parents skip getting an approval from the court.

Instead, couples apply for a retroactive confirmation of the marriage when they reach an age deemed legal by Indonesian law.

According to Risana, couples generally apply for a retroactive confirmation when they need to get their paperwork in order.

For example, if they need to make a passport, or if they need to make a birth certificate for their child, these situations require a marriage certificate.

There were more than 200 couples in 2016 who applied for confirmation, she said. With no way for authorities to prove that they were children when the marriage took place, such loopholes only make underage marriages all the more difficult to tackle.

While tradition is a main factor for the practice, according to observers, religion plays a key role in its support.

“Religion has made it legitimate for members of the community to say that getting a child married is the right of the guardian, and when they get a child married, they base that right on the fact that the Prophet married Siti Aisyah when she was nine years old,” said Tatik Hidayati, a lecturer at the Anuqqayah Institute of Islamic Sciences.

“So they use that as a justification that Islam doesn’t forbid it.”

These factors only add to the age debate.

AN UPHILL BATTLE

Records from the National Statistics Agency shows that there were 554 couples who divorced in 2016. There were also 55 cases of underage marriage sentenced by the Religious Court of Sumenep in the same year.

Sumenep is about 170km from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

While there is no official data on whether the two overlap, or how many of the divorced couples married as children, authorities say the high divorce rate can be attributed to child marriage, and that they are working to tackle the issue through community engagement, by implementing various programmes.

“In fact in our planning programme, the most ideal age for women (to marry and bear children) is 21 years old, for men it is 25, which is the most ideal. According to their mental state, they are ready,” said Herman Poernomo, Head of Sumenep’s Empowerment of Women, Child Protection & Family Planning Office.

“If you marry your child off and he or she isn’t happy or prosperous, then what’s the point?” asked Herman, with the question he said he generally posed to parents wanting to marry off their children.

But many parents in Sumenep feel bound to the practice out of fear of their girls becoming so-called “spinsters”, a status attached to societal stigma.

Sumarni was married at the age of 13. While she has a daughter of her own now, she said her parents were worried that she would always remain single, which is why they arranged for her marriage.

“The first night (together) I didn’t know anything, I only knew how to cry.”

According to Sumarni, once a child is married, they become their husband’s responsibility, and this also motivates many parents to marry their children off.

There is also a general sense of concern among parents in the regency of their children spending time in close physical proximity with members of the opposite sex, sparking fears among parents who worry that it “could lead to something.”

Authorities have said that they cannot force parents who are accustomed to these traditions forego the practice, but what they have been trying to do is familiarise them with the consequences in an effort to approach the issue with sensitivity.

Marrying as children is detrimental from a health perspective as well, parents are told.

A mother sits with her newly-wed daughter on her lap. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

“A child who marries below the age of 15 and then gives birth, from a physical point of view it is not her time to give birth yet, so a woman’s reproductive organs are not ready for pregnancy,” said Hajah Kusmawati, head of health promotion at the regency’s health office.

She also cited the list of possible health conditions a pregnant child might go through in the course of giving birth, the extremity of which, is death.

“Abortion or the aborting of a baby because the child isn’t ready (to become a parent), internal bleeding, having a baby born underweight, then there’s also asphyxia, and a long labour.

“On the psychological front, the child is still a teenager, she will still wants to ‘have fun playing’; automatically, she won’t be optimal in taking care of a child she gave birth to,” Hajah said, adding that the parents or grandparents will take care of the child in such cases.

Data cited by the regency’s health office said that of about 69,200 teenagers in Sumenep, nine were pregnant in 2016, lower than the office’s 15-person estimate for the year.

According to Hajah, while children in the regency still got married, nowadays, they were likely to wait to before having children, at least until they turned 18 years old.

The health office, just like Sumenep’s Empowerment of Women, Child Protection & Family Planning Office, also engages the community with their programmes, which propagate healthy marriages at the age of 21 for girls, and 25 for boys.

In addition to their familiarisation programmes, the department provides counselling for children and parents as well, including having a dialogue with those who attempt to legitimise the practice by bringing religion into the matter.

Despite these programmes, the regency’s authorities emphasised that the country’s conflicting marital laws are an obstacle in their efforts. According to them, the onus is on the central government to revise the rules.

MOUNTING PRESSURE

Religious teachers have always played a key role in advising members of the community on traditional practices.

“Some traditions need to be upheld while others, child marriage among them, don’t,” stressed K Safraji, head of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) in Sumenep regency, or the Indonesian Ulema Council, Indonesia’s highest clerical body.

K Safraji, head of the Indonesian Ulema Council in Sumenep regency walks by a group of boys sitting at a mosque after school. (Photo: Chandni Vatvani) 

In 2015, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rejected an application to raise the marriageable age for girls from 16 to 18 years, on the grounds that raising the marriageable age would not guarantee a reduction in divorce rates nor would it solve health and social problems.

But, in a landmark moment, female clerics this year urged the government to do just that. They issued an unprecedented fatwa or edict against child marriage after a three-day congress held in Cirebon, West Java province.

While an edict is non-binding, it is influential – and serves as a guideline for Muslims to practice their faith according to the local context.

Earlier this year, the government also said that it would seek the help of male clerics, who deliver Friday prayer sermons in mosques to campaign against the practice of child marriage.

In Sumenep, these movements have begun but haven’t made much progress yet, with majority of the clerics in there unaware of the efforts.

“So far, no one from the government has come to familiarise us with these efforts yet to prevent child marriage,” said Lestariyadi, a cleric and head of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organisation, for Sumenep’s Batang-Batang district.

He added that he was optimistic about a positive change, at least for Sumenep’s children, if authorities spread word about the programme and got everyone on board to carry it out.

Indonesian Ulema Council Head, K Safraji said they had already begun engaging the community to spread awareness on the problem.

The Indonesian government said that it would seek the help of male clerics, who deliver Friday prayer sermons in mosques to campaign against the practice of child marriage. (Photo: AFP/ Juni Kriswanto) 

The Council also implemented a strict vetting process when families approached them to get their children married he said, being sure to ask questions about age, and whether the couple had gone to the Religious Affairs Office to register their marriage.

One problem he said which still occurs and which they are trying to tackle is the manipulation of data.

“Just sometimes, there is some manipulation done by the parents, where they will tell the Office that a child is say already 16 years old, when in reality, he or she is just 11,” he said.

COMMITTING TO A SUSTAINABLE GOAL

Indonesia has committed to achieving its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, its aims include eliminating all harmful practices against girls and women including child marriage.

But the Indonesian Coalition to End Child Marriage (18+ Coalition) in November issued a statement saying there had been no significant decrease in the number of child marriage rates in the past eight years.

The group cited data from the National Statistics Agency which showed child marriage rates were 27.4 per cent in 2008, and while they declined to 22.8 per cent in 2015, the rates went up to 25.7 per cent in 2017.

The group has accused the government of failing to commit to its goal.

“This indicates that the alleviation of child in marriage Indonesia has suffered a setback,” the group said in its press release.

Indonesia is ranked 37 on the global child marriage index and is the second highest in Southeast Asia after Cambodia.

With statistics like these, Lies Marcoes Natsir of the Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation said the situation concerning child marriage had reached a “critical” phase – at “emergency” level.

But while the problem is multi-layered, Lies is optimistic that the issue can make headway on certain conditions which should be addressed ahead of others.

“There are two conditions that I believe should be addressed immediately. The first one, is the state’s willingness to explore the possibility of reproduction and sexual education,” she said.

Pregnancy is also one of the reasons children are forced to marry she explained.

“We conducted research in 2014-2015 in nine regencies across five provinces, and we found that out of 52 children who were married, 36 among them got married because they were pregnant, pregnant and underage.”

In this context, the Religious Affairs Office (KUA) and the Religious Court fall under pressure from parents.

According to Lies, if the Religious Affairs Office declines to approve their marriage, parents would then go to the village branch and marry off their children without officially registering them, or, they would manipulate data such as the date of births and make the marriage happen.

The second issue according to Lies has to do with mindset.

“I believe is that if the child is already pregnant, what should be done – the child has two choices – either abortion or to bring the pregnancy to full term without having to marry.”

Lies went on to explain that the government must be brave enough to be able to tell people not to punish the baby or the mother, whether for being illegitimate or having so-called “bad morals”.

“If the government or all of us can be open and honest about these facts, then there is hope,” she said.

“But if this is not carried out, even if there is a national effort, or a coalition among the ministries, but they do not want to be open about sexuality, then it will be very difficult.”

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/it-s-tradition-the-child-brides-of-indonesia-sumenep-regency-9478014

Cerita dari Batang Batang

“Menikah dan berkeluarga itu untuk di dunia dan akhirat. Oleh karenanya anggota yang ada dalam satu keluarga harus saling menghormati dan memuliakan, antara suami kepada istri, istri kepada suami, bapak kepada anak, ibu kepada anak juga anak kepada ibu dan bapaknya.” (Kepala KUA Kec Batangbatang Bp Hasyim Asy’ari)

Ketika ada pertanyaan tentang usia menikah dalam Islam yang disampaikan salah satu peserta pelatihan fasilitator tingkat kecamatan untuk program pencegahan pernikahan anak beliau menyampaikan bahwa hadis riwayat Hisyam bin Urwah yg kerap dijadikan rujukan pelaku nikah anak statusnya adalah dhoif/lemah. Beliau mengemukan analisis dari sisi sejarah bahwa Asma bin Abi Bakar (istri Nabi) meninggal pada 73 H di usia 100 tahun. Jadi ketika Nabi hijrah dari Mekah ke Madinah Asma berusia 27 tahun. Aisyah dengan Asma berselisih umur 10 th. Mereka kakak beradik. Dengan demikian ketika Hijrah Aisyah berusia 17 tahun. Nabi menikahi Aisyah ketika Hijrah. Dengan demikian Aisyah bukan menikah di usia anak (usia 6 atau 7 tahun). (Semoga tak salah mengutip)

Padahal beliau belum pernah ikut pelatihan Rahima Rumah Bersama maupun Rumah KitaB. Peserta pelatihan menyimaknya dengan takjub tadi. Saya langsung ‘interview’ singkat tadi usai beliau jadi narasumber. Beliau ‘menemukan’ analisis sejarah di atas ketika sedang menyusun thesisnya. Dalam ceramah terbuka hal itu kerap juga disampaikan. Ada banyak lagi pandangan progresif yang disampaikannya. Membuat mata saya berbinar binar he he.

Semoga saja yg disampaikannya ini tersosialisasi ke lebih banyak tokoh agama lainnya hingga upaya pencegahan pernikahan anak dapat terwujud…

Batangbatang, Sumenep, 16 Nov 2017