Worldwide, there has been a massive increase in child marriages following the COVID-19 crisis. In Indonesia, too, this figure has risen with Indonesia ranked amongst ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world. One of the Indonesian provinces with a high incidence of child marriage cases is in Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB).
This study aims to examine what is causing the rate of child marriages to increase since the outbreak of COVID-19 in NTB.
Using snowball sampling techniques, the researcher selected 23 study participants, including ten parents (seven mothers and three fathers) with children who were married underage and 13 adolescents aged 14 to 17 years old (ten females and three males) who were married between March and December 2020. They came from two different regencies of NTB: Lombok Barat and Lombok Utara.
This study employed qualitative phenomenology as the method of inquiry. Data was obtained through semi-structured in-depth interviews and analyzed in a two-stage coding model. The results of the analysis were asserted on phenomenological themes.
The data reveals that teenagers get married because: 1) they believe that marriage is an escape-from schoolwork, house chores, and the stress and boredom of studying and staying at home during the pandemic; 2) the customary law- some local customs encourage or permit child marriage; 3) there is a lack of understanding of the impact and long term implications of underage marriage; 4) economic problems- financial problems trigger parents to marry their children at a young age; and 5) the influence of the surrounding environment and peers, which encourages early marriage.
The findings suggest a number of recommendations for the prevention of child marriage: 1) socializing the prevention of child marriage; 2) offering alternative activities and support systems for adolescents to overcome frustration and pressure due to online learning and staying at home; 3) changing society’s view that marrying children solves adolescent promiscuity, prevents pregnancy, and addresses the issue of non-marital pregnancy.

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