Civil Society Movement for the Elimination of Child Marriage Affirms that Aisha Wedding’s Child Marriage is a Crime Against Children and Women

Recently, flyers, websites and social media accounts from Aisha Weddings, a wedding organizer, have been circulating which advertises marriage services that promote the marriage of children who are as young as 12 years old, as well as displayed photos of young girls. In response, the Civil Society Movement for the Elimination of Child Marriage held a press conference on Thursday (11/2) and issued a statement that the promotion of child marriage is a crime against children and women and is an act that violates Indonesian law. The statement of principle has received public support from at least 128 institutions and 305 individuals in less than 18 hours. The statement of principle from the Civil Society Movement includes 6 urgencies to various stakeholders

Recently, flyers, websites and social media accounts from Aisha Weddings, a wedding organizer, have been circulating which advertises marriage services that promote the marriage of children who are as young as 12 years old, as well as displayed photos of young girls. In response, the Civil Society Movement for the Elimination of Child Marriage held a press conference on Thursday (11/2) and issued a statement that the promotion of child marriage is a crime against children and women and is an act that violates Indonesian law. The statement of principle has received public support from at least 128 institutions and 307 individuals in less than 18 hours.

The statement of principle from the Civil Society Movement includes 6 urgencies to various stakeholders as follow:

  1. Urge the Police to conduct investigations and enforce relevant legislation against the owners, creators, and managers of www.aishaweddings.com and similar sites that are the network of child trafficking and exploitation;
  2. Urge the Ministry of Communications and Information to block online content and evaluate online and application based business that promote child marriage and provide matchmaking services which lead to the criminal act of trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
  3. Urge the Board of Directors for online applications and website companies to take responsibility in a proactive manner, including stopping the promotion of child marriage and the provision of matchmaking services that lead to the crime of trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
  4. Urge the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection to strengthen the socialization of Law No. 16 of 2019 regarding the Amendment to Law No. 1 of 1974 concerning marriage, in order to strengthen efforts to prevent child marriage at the village level. This includes encouraging the Ministry of Home Affairs to issue policies that encourage regional governments to issue regulations to prevent child marriage;
  5. Urge the Ministry of Social Affairs to include efforts to prevent child marriage into social protection programs, particularly with social assistance;
  6. Urge the National Child Protection Commission (KPAI) to work together with civil society organizations in an effort to stop parties that promote child marriage

Dini Widiastuti, Executive Director of Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia) in a press conference revealed, “What Aisha Weddings has done in our opinion is a form of calling for violence against girls, which has not only a momentary but lasting and sustained impact on the lives of girls who become victims, and also the children that will be born from them. This case is just the tip of the iceberg of child marriage practices that are still mushrooming, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The involvement of young women is also vital in the campaign against the promotion of child marriage. Ferny, representative of the AKSI Network, stated, “Young people are the group most affected by this case, so there needs to be the involvement of children and young people in the prevention of child marriage. One of the challenges faced is the regulation socialization that is conducted through social media. This challenge is more difficult for girls from outer areas with minimum access to social media. A survey from the Youth Coalition for Girls found that many regions had not received socialization regarding the Child Marriage Law. Another challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, is that there are many economic impacts that affect girls, one of which is dropping out of school. Aisha Wedding’s statement on its website seems to describe marriage as a solution to poverty even though this is not true, and it is detrimental to girls.”

Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, Chairman of the Association for the Legal Aid Institute for the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice (LBH APIK), “Aisha Weddings has promoted child marriage, forced marriage, and polygamy, through flyers, pamphlets, websites, and Facebook pages which from the legal point of view violates ITE Law. Furthermore, it indirectly promotes and perpetuates sexual crimes against girls, which is also a paedophilia act. This is against the Law on Child Protection.”

Dian Kartika Sari, Chairman of the Board of Directors, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development “Aisha Weddings which offers husband search services for their children have a tendency towards child trafficking. If there is child marriage, there will be physical, mental and sexual exploitation, let alone nikah sirri (secret wedding). Nikah sirri that are promoted also do not protect women as wives in the eyes of the law.” Dian also stated that the child marriage promotion which leads to child trafficking also hampers the country’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goal number 5.3.”

R. Valentina Sagala, SE, SH, MH, Senior Independent Expert on Legal, Human Rights & Gender “The current efforts made by the Civil Society Movement have an impactful by alarming the police to be more proactive and arrest and take firm action against cases of child trafficking with the motive of social and economic exploitation. As well as encouraging the roles and responsibilities of the business actors in the online/application platform to proactively participate in preventing the promotion of child marriage and allegations of sexual, economic exploitation, and criminal acts of trafficking in persons.”

In the press conference, Rohika Kurniadi Sari, S.H. M.Si, The Assistant Deputy for the Fulfillment of Children’s Rights to Care, Family and Environment, is also present and appreciates the Civil Society Movement which has initiated this action. “The government cannot work alone, but it needs to involve the 4 pillars of development (government, society, media and the business world). We are grateful to respond immediately in implementation action down to the family level. We are listening to these 6 urgencies which we will synergize with other ministries and the business world who are also involved in this pressure to break the chain of child marriage.” Rohika continued.

The Civil Society Movement for the Elimination of Child Marriage includes several women’s organizations and observers of women’s and children’s rights. Including Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia), Institut Perempuan Indonesia, the Legal Aid Institute for the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice (LBH APIK Indonesia), Rumah KitaB, AKSI Network, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), ALIMAT, and various other institutions and individuals. ***