Rights groups on Wednesday welcomed the Indonesian parliament’s decision to raise the marriage age for girls from 16 to 19 as a victory in the fight to end rampant child marriages.
“We are grateful. Even though we had wanted it raised to 21, at least 19 is no longer a minor,” said Budi Wahyuni, Deputy Chair of the National Commission on Violence against Women.
“It’s a compromise because we know there are still some people who are opposed [to the change],” she said.
The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), said Indonesia had the eighth-highest absolute number of child brides in the world, at almost 1.5 million, with 14 percent of girls in the country marrying before the age of 18.
A previous attempt by activists to have the law changed failed when the Constitutional Court rejected in 2015 a petition to raise the marriage age for girls.
But in a surprise ruling in December, a different set of judges at the court ordered the parliament to revise the law in response to a petition filed by former child brides.