Mataram, 26 January 2021– More than two thousands cases of pregnancy in teenagers aged between 15-19 years old were recorded in Mataram and North Lombok in 2018-2019. Limited access to sexual and reproductive health information and facilities leads to child marriage and teenage pregnancy. To bridge this gap, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia) launched Let’s Talk program in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) including Mataram from Tuesday (26/1) and in North Lombok from Thursday (28/1).
According to the Office of Women’s Empowerment, Child Protection, Population Control and Family Planning (DP3AP2KB) West Nusa Tenggara province, 805 dispensation requests for child marriage were recorded in 2020.. This is an increase of 59% from 2019, which recorded 332 requests.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health rights for children, teenagers, and young people more difficult. This situation has not only led to worsening health impact, but also to the increase of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
Together with local government, parents, and teachers, Plan Indonesia will provide training to increase the ability of children, teenagers, and young people to create safe and supportive environments that prevent risky behaviours and child marriage, and help children, teenagers, and young people can grow to reach their full potential. This will be conducted through peer educators in schools.
Let’s Talk program launch in Mataram was attended by several government agencies, customary organisations, youth organisations, and civil society. Among them were the Mayor of Mataram, the Office of Education and Cultural NTB, the Health Office NTB, the Office of Women’s Empowerment, Child Protection, Population Control and Family Planning NTB, NTB Children’s Forum, City of Mataram, and NTB Child Protection Agency.
Government partners in both the City of Mataram and District of North Lombok have supported the implementation of this program. “We appreciate Plan Indonesia for supporting our program to elimate child marriage. I hope that teenagers in Mataram and North Lombok have a better understanding of the negatives effects of child marriage and are able to choose a better and healthier life”, said Dr. H Lalu Fatwir Uzali, S.Pd., M.Pd, Head of Mataram’s Health Office, at the launch of the Let’s Talk program.
He stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it very difficult to organise learning activities to prevent child marriage. “I hope that the Let’s Talk program can strengthen the ability of teachers and schools to provide reproductive health information and can protect students from child marriage” added H. Lalu Fatwir.
The Head of the Sector for Protecting Children from Violence and Exploitation, H, Rohatul Aini also attended the launch of the Let’s Talk program, and said that the what the government is currently doing is optimal, such as strengthening children’s forums, forming Family Learning Centres and encouraging regional regulations that will prevent child marriage. “Hopefully we can actively collaborate through Let’s Talk program with the schools where it will be implemented”, she added.
Sabaruddin, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia Program Coordinator in West Nusa Tenggara emphasized the importance of meaningfully involving children and teenagers in reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
“Child marriage must not happen again. Therefore,we have invited various parties to work together to reduce and even eliminate the practice of child marriage. Let’s Talk program aims to empower children and teenagers so they can choose the right future for themselves”, asserted Sabaruddin.
Through one year of mentoring, the Let’s Talk program will assist 6 schools; SMAN 8 Mataram, SMPN 16 Mataram, SMPN 17 Mataram, SMAN 1 Kayangan, SMKN 1 Gangga and SMPN 2 Gangga. A total of 216 peer educators, 3456 adolescents, 2419 parents, and 42 teachers are targeted to participate in regular training and discussions, and participate in campaigns that fulfill sexual and reproductive health rights, prevent risky behaviours and prevent child marriage.
Uneven access to sexual and reproductive health information and services was identified as a barrier that prevents girls from leading healthy lives. Plan Indonesia believes that creating positive change in the lives and health of young people requires a collaborative approach between all parties involved.
Through a gender sensitive environment, young people and children, boys and girls, can equally access information and services that support their sexual and reproductive health rights. Ultimately, enforcing teenagers to be able to make the right decisions for their futures.