The female Islamic clergy of Indonesia have declared a first of its kind fatwa against child marriage.
The fatwa, which was issued after a three-day congress of female clerics in the country, though not legally binding is expected to be highly influential in the nation’s stance against child marriage.
The fatwa called underage marriage “harmful” and said preventing it was mandatory.
According to UNICEF, one in four women in Indonesia marries before the age of 18 and the country is amongst the highest number of child brides in the world.
The clerics have urged the government to raise the legal age for women to marry from 16 to 18.
Hundreds of women from nations all over the world attended the Indonesian KUPI Women’s Ulema Congress in Cirebon, on Java Island. Female clerics or “Ulema” have existed in Indonesia for hundreds of years, but their role in the society have been downplayed in the past and the congress aims to highlight their importance.
As reported by the BBC, steering committee chairman Badriyah Fayumi said, “Through this conference, we want to state that female clerics exist and have been proven to contribute, and this is the time to acknowledge their existence and to give an appreciation for the… contribution of the female clergy.”
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