Two days ago, I had a very interesting but upsetting conversation with some coworkers. They informed me that if a child is born by parents who are not married to each other, the hospital will not give the child a proper birth certificate. Without the birth certificate, the child might not be allowed to go to school. Having reached adulthood, there will still be problems with getting an ID card or passport, thus making it hard to for example vote or leave the country.
Oh, and by the way. A little detail. If the parents come from different religions… they are not allowed to marry each other. Sure, you can change your religion esaily, if your social situation allows that. And if you have enough money, you can also fly to another country and get married there instead. So, there are ways around all these problems… assuming you belong to the elite, not the general population.
Yesterday I went out shopping with one of my friends. I asked her about this issue. She said that she’s one of the many who has this problem. She managed to sneak through school on empty promises to show them her birth certificate soon. Grew up knowing that she was not really allowed to go to school, that she only got her education by pretending. She later managed to get an ID card somehow. Getting a passport is out of her reach, however.
Today I met a man from the American Embassy. I hope he’s okay: The religious fundamentalists attacked the embassy later in the day and had a big battle with the police. Anyway, we talked a bit about this birth certificate issue. He’ll send me some report they have written. I also plan to have a serious talk with Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association and some other organizations, learn all I can about this issue. See what projects and campaigns are going on about this and see if I can help.
The current system, or lack thereof, really seem to be one huge injustice. Stigmatizing unmarried couples is bad enough. But taking it out on the children, who had no say or choice in the matter… 😦