Other 12-year-old girls complain about homework and exams, but a fifth-grader in Medan had to run away and sneak into school just to attend classes after her father forced her to marry a 60-year-old man.
The girl, identified as AG, reported her plight to the Medan office of the Indonesia Child Protection Commission (KPAID) on Tuesday. Accompanied by her 28-year-old sister, AG said her parents forced her to marry the man, identified as MIG, in October. Rismawati, AG’s sister, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday that her little sister had escaped from her husband’s house and was staying with her.
“She ran away from her husband’s house because she really wants to keep going to school,” Rismawati said. She said AG was married by a cleric in front of their parents with a Rp 100,000 ($11) dowry. She said AG refused the marriage at first but their father beat her severely with a leather belt and punched her in the head.
Rismawati said they decided to go to KPAID after a police report they filed four months ago had no effect. Every day, Rismawati took AG to her school and waited for her until her classes finished. She said she was worried that MIG’s employees would kidnap her sister and take her back to his house and AG would not be able to return to school.
Rismawati condemned MIG for marrying her younger sister against her will. She said MIG was only thinking about his own needs while ignoring the fact that AG was underage.
Hasan Basri, of Medan’s education agency, said that while he regretted that a child who was supposed to be in school was married to a much older man against her will, it was difficult to interfere because it was a private matter.
Magdalena Sitorus, a KPAID commissioner in Jakarta, said some parents felt children were their possessions.