Indonesia – Mass Wedding Provides Marriage & Birth Retistrations for Low Income Families
Date: December 28, 2017
Taking the vow: Thousands of couples participate in a mass wedding reception held at Istora Senayan.. Most of the over 5,000 couples already lived together and had children but had not registered their marriages, citing various reasons. JP/Awo
The Jakarta Post – By Corry Elyda
Wearing a white gown, 31-year-old Susi blushed as she received her marriage certificate during a mass wedding reception held by the Pondok Kasih and Harmoni Cinta foundations at Istora Senayan in South Jakarta.
I have been married for 15 years, but this is the first time I’ve held my marriage certificate,’she said, showing off the document.
Citing financial difficulties, Susi and her 35-year-old husband Dedi decided to get married in a Buddhist Vihara in 1999 without registering their wedding at the Population and Civil Registration Agency. The mother of four said registering their marriage was a luxury the couple could not afford.
I did not even bother to get information on the fee,’ she said, adding that her husband worked as a street vendor and garbage collector.
More than 5,000 low-income couples from Greater Jakarta participated in the mass wedding in order to formalize their marriage. Many parents decided to join the programs to get the father’s name included on children’s birth certificates.
Susi, for example, said she took part in the free wedding event for the sake of her children, who were listed as children born out of wedlock on their birth certificates. She said she was afraid her daughter would encounter difficulties with the old birth certificate when she went to college.
Meanwhile, some parents were unaware of their children’s right to a birth certificate, which are free according to the law.
Diah Susilowati, 25, said she joined the mass wedding in order to get birth certificates for her children.
If they go to school, it will be difficult without a birth certificate,’she said, adding that her three-year-old son did not have any legal certificate.
Diah said when they got married in 2010, they could not afford to legalize their marriage.
The cost could reach up to Rp. 1 million [US$80], back then. We did not have that much money,’she said.
According to Law No. 24/2013 on Population Administration, every child has the right to a free birth certificate, regardless of the status of their parents’marriage. If the parents fail to present their marriage certificate, the birth certificate will list the mother as the lone parent.
YW Junardy, the committee chairman of the event, said most couples did not legalize their marriage because of financial constraints. ‘The fee for officiating marriage at the Religious Affairs [Ministry] can cost around Rp 600,000, he said, adding that it was too expensive for low-income people.
Other reasons, he added included the labyrinthine bureaucracy and a lack of awareness.
Junardy said the mass wedding followed the success of the first-ever mass wedding in 2011, where 4,000 people were wedded.
We estimate that at least 500,000 families in Greater Jakarta are not officially married. Therefore, we hold the same event this year,’ he said, adding that the program cost around Rp 6 billion.
The funding comes from many donors; foundations and private firms as well as the city administration and the mental education division at the Indonesian Army, he said.
During the reception, some select couples were able to ride in Army tanks, while others enjoyed musical performances.