Legislating Social Change in an Islamic Society: Indonesia's Marriage Law

29 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2015

See all articles by Mark Cammack

Mark Cammack

Southwestern Law School

Lawrence Young

Brigham Young University

Tim Heaton

Brigham Young University

Date Written: 1996

Abstract

In 1974 Indonesia passed a National Marriage Act that imposed a minimum marriage age of 16 for girls and 19 for boys. In this paper we evaluate the efficacy of the Act in achieving the objective of reducing the frequency of child marriage. We examine data from a large demographic survey which shows that statutory minimum age rules have had little if any direct effect on the rate of underage marriage by girls. The data show that while there has been a steady decline in the number of girls marrying below the age of 16, the marriage law has not had an appreciable effect on that trend. We interpret this “failure” of the law to affect behavior as resulting primarily from a popular conviction that a marriage is valid if performed in accordance with Islamic law, regardless of conflicting statutory requirements. But while the Marriage Act has not prevented the practices it prohibits on the model of direct legal intervention, it has, we believe, affected marriage age less directly. We suspect that the values of individual autonomy and choice embodied in the law, together with other modernizing influences, are challenging traditional beliefs about femininity and parental authority on which those practices were based.

Suggested Citation

Cammack, Mark and Young, Lawrence and Heaton, Tim, Legislating Social Change in an Islamic Society: Indonesia's Marriage Law (1996). American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 44, No. 1, 1996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2559576

Mark Cammack (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

Lawrence Young

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

Tim Heaton

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

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