"The first story is about Melati (not her real name), a 21-year-old woman who was admitted to the emergency room with a big cut on her thumb, a head concussion and while in a state of hysteria. Her drunk husband had swung a machete at her during an argument. She was pregnant with her third child.
Melati was a classic story: dropped out of school, she got married because of an unwanted pregnancy. Her husband worked as a daily laborer “buruh serabutan”, while she stayed at home.
The second story comes from a couple of dropped-out junior high school students. The girl, an 8th grader and the boy, who was in 9th grade, were pulled out of school by their own parents, again because of a pregnancy. This couple was so young to get pregnant and here, in this corner of the world, I never would have expected it.
And the third story is about another girl, let’s call her Bunga, an 11th grader. She came to me after missing her periods for two months in a row. I asked her a few questions. Did she have sex? Yes. Did they use protection? No. Did he ejaculate inside or outside? Inside.
I blinked in astonishment as I heard her responses. Seriously, this girl did not know that letting a man ejaculate inside you can make you pregnant? I used to think that everyone at least knew that. I was wrong, apparently. On further asking, I found that she never thought of using condoms, because, well, she only did it with that one guy, how could she get sick? She asked if she could just abort it, because she still wanted to go to school and was afraid that the schools would expel pregnant girls. And where should she get her prenatal examinations? Going to the Puskesmas (public health clinic)? People would talk. Going to the senior midwife? Her husband is a relative of hers; they would judge.
Some days later, Bunga came to me again. She was indeed pregnant. We talked again. That was how I found out about the father of the unborn baby. He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, take any responsibilities, because he was married already. A married guy who happily dated a high schooler and was stupid enough to make her pregnant?
This is crazy! These youngsters have to bear horrible consequences, from deeds they didn’t fully understand.
Upon interviewing Bunga, I realized one scary thing: these kids certainly know how to have sex, but they don’t know the slightest thing about it. It's alarming and it explains the incredibly high rate of teen pregnancies here, despite the fact that you can find a church every couple of blocks.
So who should we blame here? The naughty teenagers with their "immoral" behaviour? Or the frustrating ignorance of Indonesian society at large?
These are not some storybook tales. This is reality. In real life – whether you like it or not – people won’t stop having sex just because you told them that they are going to hell. The writer of this piece told us that her respondents – city kids – were afraid to ask the adults for information about sex. They couldn’t bear being judged. If even they found it hard to get information about sex, what chance do the kids where I live here have – with little access to the Internet, parents who talk in a hush-hush voice about an itch on their genitals, midwives who provide government-distributed condoms only to married couples, teachers who know nothing themselves?
I don’t think morality is useless. For me, morality should complement realistic work. This is not a utopian world. In real life shit happens. A lot.
Please wake up. Don’t be naïve. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t resort to the denial mode. And please, please, DO something about this."