New research shows a fall in the age of menarche in Indonesia leading to concerns about the effect on child marriage and the need for legal reform.
Written by Pierre van der Eng, The Jakarta Post
The age of menarche, when girls first start menstruating, is falling in Indonesia. My recently published paper shows this is a result of improved living conditions.
The average age of menarche used to be around 15 years, but it has now decreased to about 12.5 in rural areas and 11.7 years in urban areas.
As Indonesia continues to prosper, all indications point to menarche starting even earlier.
This has implications for the health of Indonesia’s female children given the customary linking in some parts of the country of the age of menarche to when a girl can marry.
Indonesia’s marriage law specifies the legal minimum age of marriage as 16 for girls and 19 for boys. However, increasing piety leads more Muslim parents to turn to religious courts seeking permission for their underage daughters to marry.