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Indonesia is studying Islamic wedding planner to promote child marriage

By Kate Lamb and Stanley Widianto

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian authorities are investigating an Islamic wedding planning service to encourage the marriage of girls as young as 12 despite laws banning child marriages.

The Indonesian Child Protection Commission said it had reported the Aishaweddings.com website to police for allegedly violating at least two laws while the Department of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection prepared to do the same.

The website “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.

On its website, which has since been discontinued, the agency showed a photo of a young Islamic bride in a white hijab and wedding attire.

Next to the photo you can read the captions: “All women want to be pious and obedient to Allah and their husbands” and “To please God and your husband, you must be married between the ages of 12 and 21 and not be older.” .

In September 2019, Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, revised the country’s marriage law to increase the minimum age at which women can marry from 16 to 19.

The wedding planner, who also promoted polygamous marriage, which is legal in Indonesia, didn’t immediately respond to an email and messages sent by Reuters through its Facebook page for comment. The account was later deleted.

Before the dismantling, the message “It is better to get married than to starve” was posted on the Facebook account.

An online search revealed that the wedding planner’s website was registered anonymously in Panama.

A police spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment while the Indonesian ombudsman told the media that the website was “harmful to the country’s youth”.

Despite the change in legal age, Olin Monteiro of the Jakarta Feminist Association said that women in Indonesia are often viewed primarily as childcare workers and that the wedding planning service points to poor education and law enforcement.

According to a 2016 report by the Indonesian Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF, every fourth girl in Indonesia is married before the age of 18.

(Reporting by Kate Lamb in Sydney and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Editing by Ed Davies and Alison Williams)

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