1 of 9 Indonesian Women Are Married Before They Turn 18
What adolescent girls need to know
Many girls who have started their period are involved in child marriage, an act that violates the fundamental rights of children. According to the 2018 National Social and Economic Survey (SUSENAS), there are 1,2 million child marriage cases in Indonesia, where one of nine Indonesian women ages 20-24 years old are married before they turn 18.
1. Access to Information on Reproductive and Menstrual Health
UNICEF data reveal that one of four children in Indonesia never receives any information on menstruation prior to menarche. Moreover, based on the 2017 Basic Health Research Survey (SDKI), one of five girls are not aware that menstruation means that they are now physically able to carry a pregnancy.
2. Menstrual myths
There are many myths surrounding menstruation. For one, consuming beef and fish during period is believed to cause bad smell. Girls and women are also prohibited from washing their hair or cutting their nails. However, there is nothing wrong with personal hygiene practices, such as hair washing during menstruation. In fact, it keeps you fresh and protects the body from bacteria and body odor. There is another reason why these restrictions are called myths: beef and fish contain protein and iron that women and girls need to regenerate red blood cells that are lost during their period.
3. Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management
There are two types of menstrual pads in the market: disposable and reusable. Regardless, the pad must be regularly replaced, at least every four hours and even if your flow is very light. It is common for girls to wait until their pads are heavily stained, which may take up to or over 6 hours. However, this may cause reproductive tract infection, urinary tract infection, and skin irritation. Menstrual blood contains a lot of bacteria that replicate within just 30 minutes. You can imagine how much bacteria there is in 1 to 2 hours.
After replacement, you need to dispose the stained pad sanitarily by wrapping it to keep disease from spreading. If you are experiencing heavy flow, it is advisable to clean the pad under running water before you wrap it and dispose it to a trash bin with lid.
4. Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities
A UNICEF Indonesia poll shows that 1 of 5 girls in Indonesia have difficulty in accessing or buying pads, and 1 of 10 feel embarrassed and that they have no privacy when attempting to access menstrual hygiene products. This also happens in the school environment which is experienced by most young girls in Indonesia. This is the importance of education about Menstrual Hygiene and Health Management among adolescents, including boys.
5. Access to knowledge: Oky, the menstrual tracker app
It is important for girls to understand their menstrual cycle so that they can anticipate and be ready when the next cycle comes. To help them track menstrual cycle, UNICEF has developed Oky, a mobile app for both Android and iOS devices, designed for adolescents. To learn more, click Oky App info. To download, click Oky App download.