Funds raised to help Bangli child bride

Bali (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Numerous children¿s and women¿s activists have raised funds to help the 14-year-old child bride, identified as NWJ, who is now in intensive care after delivering a premature baby.

NWJ, whose marriage to a 39-year-old construction worker, already married with two sons, sparked nationwide protest, is both suffering from the loss of her baby, born only seven months into her pregnancy, and childbirth complications due to her young age and underdeveloped reproductive organs.

The girl is now undergoing postnatal treatment at Bangli hospital accompanied by her controversial husband.

Putu Yuli, a resident of Jehem village, said she was at the hospital to support the girl, who had married the father of two sons when she was still a sixth grader.

"Her health is still very poor. Her body looks so weak and fragile," Yuli said. The girl was rushed to the hospital while attending a summons at Bangli police station on Monday. She later delivered the premature baby, who died eight

hours later.

The Bangli police named her husband, I Wayan Cidra, a suspect for statutory rape last week.

Cidra was charged with violating Law No. 23/2002, article 81, on child protection, which stipulates that sexual intercourse between an adult - either through threat or persuasion - and a minor (below the age of 18) carries a sentence of three to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of between 60 million rupiah (US$6,168) and 300 million rupiah.

"The couple is very poor. She does not have clothes to wear. I am going to ask my colleagues to give her clothes, food and other things. She is still a child who likes snacking," said Yuli, an employee at the Bangli Family Planning and Women¿s Empowerment agency.

Ni Nengah Budiwati, director of the Bali branch of LBH APIK women¿s legal aid foundation, said during her visit to the hospital that her organization would actively provide daily assistance to the girl and the family.

"The next step is to encourage Bangli¿s Child Protection Agency to approach the family and have the girl returned to her family while she is undergoing medical treatment," Budiwati explained.

She also suggested that the girl¿s family take care of their daughter while her husband undergoes the legal process.

"The legal process will continue. For now, the police have allowed the husband to accompany his young wife during this period of family grief," she said.

In the long-term, NWJ must have access to proper family planning and access to further education, if she is willing to pursue schooling.

NWJ is the fifth child of six. She was 13-years-old when she married Cidra.

There were many cases involving sexual intercourse and marriage between adults and minors. The cases occurred not only in Bangli but also in many other villages all over the island, Budiwati said.

"In more extreme cases, even fathers and close relatives have impregnated their girls."

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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