Child Marriage as a Choice: Rethinking Agency in International Human Rights
Notes & Changes
This event will run as a Zoom webinar. To attend, register here. Please also note that this event may be recorded, with the exception of any live audience questions.
In international campaigns against child marriage, there is a puzzle of agency: While international human rights institutions celebrate girls’ exercise of their agency not to marry, they do not recognize their agency to marry. Child marriage, usually defined as ‘any formal marriage or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years of age’, is normally considered as forced – which is to say that it is assumed that are not capable of consenting to marriage. In this talk, I will re-examine this assumption by exploring why children marry, based on a socio-legal examination of child marriage in Indonesia. Structural explanations such as lack of opportunities and oppressive social structures are important, but not exhaustive, explanations. Exploring the subjective reasons by listening to children’s perspectives, their stories show that many of them decide to marry for love, desire, to belong to the community, and for new opportunities and hopes.
Hoko Horii is a lecturer at the Van Vollenhoven Institute, and a post-doctoral fellow at Kobe University. Her current project studies the concept of agency in law, by examining the background and practice of ‘age of consent’ laws in three countries: Japan, Indonesia, and the Netherlands. Previously she completed her Ph.D. at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the Van Vollenhoven Institute (2020). Her doctoral thesis critically examined the concept of ‘agency’ in international human rights, by studying child marriage in Indonesia and the international human rights discourse.