Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 19th 2016 Contents A25
Thursday, May 19, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
I cannot believe this is even up for
debate. In Trinidad and Tobago, the
constitution states that a CHILD,
which is defined as a person under the
age of eighteen, could be legally mar-
ried once their parents or guardians
have given permission/ consent for
this to happen.
The question being asked now is
whether the laws should be changed,
as under age marriage is still legal.
Members of various religions have
met to discuss and unanimously con-
clude that the outdated laws of the
Marriage Act of 1923, should remain
For a moment I would like the na-
tion to please consider what society
was like in 1923 and why those laws
were applicable then but cannot be
applicable now. In 1923, when the laws
were created, we were just on the
cusp of the end of indentureship and
Trinidad and Tobago had not yet
gained its independence from the
Amenities that we enjoy today,
such as access to land ownership,
rights to practice our own religion and
even marry outside our own race and
religion were against the law.
Take into consideration the time in
which these laws were created and
the circumstances in which it was cre-
Times have changed, and the laws
should reflect the times in which we
The constitution has not been up-
dated to account for the changes that
occurred in society and that is a scary
The laws of a country are supposed
to protect and serve the people, not
endanger the lives of minors who are
not able to make such grand decisions
that can affect the quality of their
lives from that point onwards.
This has affected our society in the
way we treat women and children.
There are high rates of child rape,
abuse and endangerment and lets not
even get started with what is done to
I am twenty one years old and I will
not like to continue living in a place
where the lives of children and
women are not respected and pro-
The legislation along with the atti-
tudes and ideas of our country needs
a good shaking up in order for this
country to move in the right direction.
I am begging and pleading with
hands outstretched that we wake up
Trinidad and Tobago, because this is
the bed we are making for future gen-
erations to lie in and I am really un-
comfortable in it.
is just plain wrong I have listened to the leader of
the Inter-Religious Organisation
(IRO) Brother Harrypersad Ma-
haraj's defence of the Marriage
Act of T&T which allows a child
as young as 12 years old to
Bro Maharaj's arguments
were that age was not a determi-
nant of maturity.
But I must ask how is the ma-
turity of the child bride deter-
mined by these groups to
establish whether the child is
ready for marriage?
Bro Maharaj also stated that
child marriages last and many
later marriages end in divorce.
Do these early marriages last
because the young child is un-
likely to rebel against oppression
But Bro Maharaj's most fasci-
nating argument was that an
early marriage can rescue a
young female who became preg-
nant from child rape from having
to endure an abortion, suicide or
a life of shame.
I must question this reasoning
because such marriages will be
aiding and abetting, even encour-
aging the crime of child rape.
Bro Maharaj also mentioned
the local Hindu and Muslim Mar-
riage Acts which permit marriage
of females as young as 12 years. I
should point out that India itself
has enacted the Prohibition of
Child Marriage Act of 2006
which prohibits solemnisation of
marriages below age 18, and re-
gards child marriages as a viola-
tion of human rights.
At the same time, we should
commend the stance of the local
Hindu Women's Organisation
who wants an end to child mar-
riages in T&T.
This can suggest that the
males who are behind the de-
fence of child marriages have
their own depraved agendas.
We should note that we have
a secular constitution, and no re-
ligious practice should be allowed
to contravene the laws of the
Quite often in the past, reli-
gions have employed oppressive
tactics to deny the human rights
of the weak.
In our past history, the first
peoples have been brought to
servitude in the name of religion.
Because of this IRO position
we need to urgently re-examine
the Concordat to bring about its
removal because the Concordat
gives denominational schools the
right to teach their doctrines ex-
I call on government to amend
the marriage act to prohibit child
David Subran PhD
What was Maharaj thinking?
Whenever I wake up to news
reports such as the Prime Minister
declaring that crime is now appar-
ently "unacceptable", it makes me
want to just go back to sleep and
never wake up again.
To suggest that crime has only
just become "unacceptable"
means that it was once accept-
able, and I can't for the life of me
understand how that is possible.
Mind you, that this is the same
Prime Minister that recently asked
us to accept that thousands of il-
legal abortions take place in our
country on a regular basis, but I
would have thought that a single
act of criminal activity would have
been one too many for any admin-
istration, which is possibly why I
am not a politician.
When Dr Rowley then arrived
at the the discovery that there has
been an escalation in crime, due
mostly in part to the inefficiency
of law enforcement officers, and
the rising aggression sweeping
the land, it appeared that this was
surprising to him, but what else
could he have possibly have ex-
Since allocating one billion dol-
lars to the Ministry of National Se-
curity at the start of his term,
there has been only three major
items instituted for crime preven-
tion and detection---re-implemen-
tation of the joint patrols,
re-introduction of speed traps; and
amendments to the Strategic
Services Amendment bill.
But his sudden realisation that
a lot of the violent crime occurring
today may not be of the organized
variety, or even premeditated,
means that the SSA will not be
able to detect or solve these
crimes in the way that they hoped.
Granted that both the Prime
Minister and Minister of National
Security once assured the popu-
lace that the spike in murders and
violent crime was a result of gang
violence spilling onto the streets,
but now that "ordinary citizens"
are taking advantage of the chaos,
it is clear that none of us are safe
As crime continues to escalate
however, I am sure someone will
suggest a limited state-of-emer-
if they haven't already, but it
will be interesting to see if and
how they will implement it. Be-
cause, while this may be the best
course of action to take crime
back down to "acceptable" levels,
the PNM do have their pride to
consider, and sometimes sacrifice
is necessary to protect it.
Rowley needs more than talk on crime
There is much furor with respect to
the Muslim and Hindu Marriage Ordi-
nances and a buildup of hype on social
media with respect to child marriages.
I have been a Muslim Marriage offi-
cer for more than forty years and dur-
ing that time I have never been
approached to perform a child marriage.
I am not aware of any child mar-
riages performed under the Muslim
Marriage Act during the last forty
I am aware however of accelerated
acts of incest that have been brought
to my attention.
Perhaps the Children`s Authority can
provide statistics of child marriages
versus incestuous relationships, so that
we can tackle the real problem of statu-
Imaam Iqbal Hydal
Muslim Marriage Officer
Lets focus on the real problem
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