The Indonesian government has planned to amend a law on underage marriages in a bid to reduce sexual offence cases against women and children.
Women Empowerment and Children Protection Minister Yohana Yembise said that the process to draft the amendment in Indonesia's 1974 marriage law that allows 16-year-old girls to wed, was underway at present. The minister said that rate of underage marriages was high in several parts of the country, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
"The issuance of the law was urgent to support our efforts in preventing underage marriages and to protect young girls from violence," the minister said.
Citing an example, the minister said that results of a research conducted by British group Coram Children's Legal Centre (CCLC) in Indonesia's West Java city of Bogor showed that in 2015, 38 per cent of women there were married before they turned 18.
Another data jointly issued by Indonesia's Central Statistics agency (BPS) and the Unesco in 2015 showed that 23 percent of Indonesian girls under 18 years old have already married. The average number of underage marriage couples stood at 340,000 per year.
The minister added that the planned amendment was related to the recently-enacted law on castration and death penalty against child sex crime convicts.
According to the minister, underage marriages pose higher risk for the females as it may lead to damage on their reproduction organs, cause domestic violence, low education and psychological issue.
Indonesia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) that requires countries to abolish marriages of youngsters before 18 years of age under health concerns.