Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Stolen Childhoods: The Young Brides of West Sulawesi

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

“I preferred being a student to a mum,” Sari* says, cradling her child. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker.

Countless small villages dot the western coastline of Sulawesi Island. Rows of rumah panggung (traditional houses) are set between pristine beaches and thick, rolling jungle. It looks like paradise. But these communities are the scene of a silent crisis.

Child marriage is prevalent across West Sulawesi. The province has the highest rate of girls married at 15 years or younger in Indonesia. For a variety of reasons – cultural, religious, economic – childhoods are lost here on a daily basis.

Ayu* is one such girl. The softly-spoken teenager lives in a farming village called Amara*. “Both my mother and grandmother were married at 14,”she says. And the family tradition continued: “I was 15 when I got married and my husband, Ganes, was 23.”

Friday, 14 August 2015

Child Marriage Takes Centre Stage at 2015 AJI-UNICEF Media Awards

UNICEF Indonesia Representative Gunilla Olsson salutes journalists at the 2015 AJI-UNICEF Media Awards ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 13 August 2015 – The high prevalence and negative consequences of child marriage in Indonesia came into sharp focus at the announcement of the 2015 Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) and UNICEF Media Awards in Jakarta.

The award ceremony has been held since 2006 to acknowledge and encourage excellence in reporting on child rights issues. For this year’s competition, a total of 318 journalists submitted stories, photos, TV and radio pieces.

Child marriage was selected as the focus of the 2015 event. This was particularly relevant after a recent Constitutional Court decision which upheld the current Indonesian marriage law – allowing girls to be married at 16 while boys can only marry at age 19. The case has begun to spur a national dialogue around child marriage.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

UNICEF and Government of Indonesia launch Pelindung Anak anti-violence campaign

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer 

BOGOR, Indonesia, 11 August 2015 - UNICEF and the Government of Indonesia used National Children’s Day celebrations at Bogor Palace to launch an innovative new campaign aimed at ending violence against children.

The Pelindung Anak (Child Protector) campaign calls on every Indonesian – no matter their age, location or profession – to join national efforts in preventing child abuse.

The Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Yohana Yembise presented the Pelindung Anak television public service announcement to President Joko Widodo, members of his cabinet and hundreds of children from around the archipelago during the event.

A Message to Indonesia: Please Stop

By Lauren Rumble, Chief of Child Protection

Lauren Rumble (front) with representatives from Sudah Dong and UNICEF Indonesia. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker.

One of the best parts of my job at UNICEF Indonesia is working directly with the young people of this country. I am fortunate enough to regularly meet such dedicated, creative and inspirational youth – so many of whom are making a real difference in their communities.

I recently met with the team behind Sudah Dong (meaning Please Stop), a NGO run by young people for young people that focuses on different ways to address bullying. The organisation was founded by Katyana Wardhana in 2014 shortly after her own experience of bullying at school.

Sudah Dong aims to mobilise actions of non-violence and peer support which will put an end to bullying. In June, Sudah Dong released its first manual for children and adolescents entitled “End Bullying” which they hope will reach one million pupils across the country. Within two weeks of launching, 625 copies had already been downloaded (you can download your own copy here).

The release of this manual is timely: Indonesia has one of the highest rates of physical attacks against students in the world (40 percent). More than 50 percent of pupils have experienced bullying at school. School, a place of learning and safety, is for many pupils, where they are most unsafe.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

U-Reporters speak out on violence against children

By Awis Mranani, UNICEF Indonesia Innovation Lab

Millions of Indonesian youth are affected by violence. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2014

The results are in. UNICEF has just completed its first major survey using the U-Report Indonesia polling system. Young people across the country were asked for their views on the taboo subject of violence against children.

More than 4,000 participants, or U-Reporters, were involved in the Twitter-based survey. Questions focused on the government’s previous strategy on violence against children and findings will now be used to provide input to the government’s updated National Strategy on Violence against Children for 2015-2019.

The answers offered by Indonesian youth are enlightening. They stressed that the government needs to be much more strategic in keeping children safe from violence. This could be through increased public awareness and education activities (particularly regarding legislation and policies) and facilitating more community involvement on the topic, especially from youth.

Quantitatively, the survey found that over the last three years, most young people aged 13-24 years who had become victims of violence did not receive any form of counselling and 15 percent had no idea where to report violence if they witness it or experience it themselves.