Indonesia considers mandatory premarital training on reproductive health, parenting starting next year

Photo: Eugenio “The Wedding Traveler” Wilman / Flickr
Photo: Eugenio “The Wedding Traveler” Wilman / Flickr

The Indonesian government wants couples to be absolutely ready before they say “I do” and go on to have children, with a possible new program designed to prepare grooms and brides for their happily ever afters.

Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Cultural Affairs Muhadjir Effendy said his ministry is planning to enforce mandatory premarital training in order to equip couples with the necessary knowledge regarding domestic life, from reproductive health, parenting, to financial and emotional management.

“The certification is to make sure that every young prospective brides and grooms will be equipped with adequate knowledge and understanding before they get married, including to reduce the divorce rate,” Muhadjir told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Detik.

Muhadjir acknowledged that other forms of marriage certification already exist in Indonesia, such as those carried out by Catholic churches or Islamic organizations such as Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). The Jakarta Provincial Government also introduced a marriage certification policy in 2017, in which citizens of the capital must undergo counseling and health checks before they could get married.

Muhadjir said that his proposed program would be adopted nationally and mandatory for all Indonesians.

“If they don’t pass the training program then they can’t get married,” he said, adding that a certificate obtained upon completing the program would be a prerequisite to obtaining marriage certificates at the Religious Affairs Office (KUA).

Specifics about the mandatory premarital training program have yet to be revealed, but Muhadjir said that it may begin sometime in 2020. Each bride and groom would have to undergo the training for around three months.

While the idea makes sense in theory, it may be much harder to enforce in practice. Among the problems Muhadjir wants to stamp out with this program is child marriage, but there have been numerous cases in recent years in which underage grooms and brides receive legal dispensation from religious courts to get married.

Furthermore, marriages that are recognized by religion or tradition and not legally by the state are commonplace in Indonesia, and it’s not hard to imagine that a mandatory premarital training program would only drive up the numbers of couples who choose to take the easier route.

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