Semarang is a port city and the capital of the province of Central Java in Indonesia. Around 1.6 million people live in this city, which was named the cleanest tourist destination in Southeast Asia. The city is growing thanks to the economy, but this comes at a price: the infrastructure cannot keep up with the population growth, and the people live in slums. There they are exposed to the recurring floods in the region. Children are even more endangered by these harsh living conditions and at the same time victims of child marriage, which is still widespread in Indonesia.
Since 1984, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Semarang.
In Indonesia, girls are still victims of child marriages. In fact, there are 1.2 million cases of child marriage in Indonesia. One in nine women aged 20-24 is married before she is 18. Child marriage is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound.
Specifically in Central Java province, where Semarang is located, between 10 and 15% of women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18.
The national target to end child marriage by 2030 requires a strong push from the government.
Semarang does not have the infrastructure to keep up with its rapid economic and demographic development. People move to the city in search of a better life and job opportunities, but they end up in one of the city's slums. About 1% of the city is considered a slum area, lacking affordable housing, proper sanitation and clean drinking water. Living in the slums is risky because Semarang is located between the sea and the mountains and is very prone to flooding. These conditions in turn lead to a high prevalence of epidemics such as dengue fever or diarrhoeal diseases. Children are most at risk due to the poverty prevailing in these slums, as they do not have access to medical care and education.