Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2014 Contents B27
February 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The complacent society in which
we now live was violently
rocked recently when Educa-
tion Minister Tim Gopeesingh
revealed that this little country of ours is
haunted by more than 2,500 teen preg-
Within 24 hours everybody seemed to
have realised that we have a serious problem
in this country, since the matter of teenage
pregnancies reflected the almost total break-
down of family life and its attendant values;
and we are not, here, just talking only about
Catholic families. The entire country is
The sudden and immediate reaction saw
all the stakeholders---like the psychologists,
medical practitioners, teachers, law enforce-
ment people and of course the politicians---
falling over each other trying to make state-
ments and voice opinions relative to the
scourge our young women face daily. Rape,
incest and teenage pregnancies are not new to T&T.
Where have we been all these years? These social
ills have been with us for decades. It s just that it
has become worse.
But when it is put in your face, as the goodly min-
ister did, it looks very different.
Unfortunately, all the pronouncements and special
committees and task forces would not improve the
sorry state in which we have found ourselves. We
need much more than that.
To add salt to the wound, Senator Faris Al Rawi
told the Senate last week that the Minister of Health
told him there were some 10,000 cases of abortions
and still-births involving teenagers every year. This
fact begs the question: Who performs these abortions?
Are they professional, specialist medical doctors or
are they done by backyard quacks?
A large number of those 10,000 are probably carried
out illegally, in makeshift clinics, which pose a number
of hazards to young, ill-advised teenagers. But there
are so many of these situations which are aided and
abetted by consenting parents, who have failed mis-
erably in carrying out their parental responsibilities
in the first place.
The statistic that is missing now to complete the
chain is the number of single parent homes (more
single mothers) there are in the country. That is a
challenge that would hardly be taken up, since society
today seems to be against marriage and the plethora
of values which that institution brings to any soci-
ety.Another fact we cannot passively overlook is the
high divorce rate in the country: it s one which the
Catholic Church must face. Statistics from the judi-
ciary reveal there are almost 3,000 divorces a year
in the country, yet another contributing factor to
many current problems.
Couples seeking annulments of their marriages in
the Catholic Church represent another serious sit-
uation. In the last seven years (2006-2013), there
have been 348 petitions to the Metropolitan Tribunal
of Declarations of Nullity of Marriage. And while the
number of petitions is not indicative of the number
of annulments granted, they do give cause for con-
As Roman Catholics, we have to take the lead in
regenerating family values in homes. With these
recent revelations, it has become even more necessary
to effectively put in place strategies that could make
the Third Pastoral Priority a most vital weapon in
the thrust of the Church to "regenerate spiritual and
moral values in the society," as mandated by Synod
And while the Roman Catholic Church cannot
fully embrace all the ills of our society, all leaders
should do something to regain the traditional values
of true family life.
• Vernon Khelawan is media relations officer of
Catholic Media Services Limited (Camsel), the
official communications arm of the Archdiocese of
Port-of-Spain. Its offices are located at 31
Independence Square. Telephone: 623-7620.
A generation in crisis "We have a serious problem in this
country: the matter of teenage
pregnancies reflects the almost
total breakdown of family life."
To add salt to the wound, Senator
Faris Al Rawi told the Senate last
week that the Minister of Health
told him there were some 10,000
cases of abortions and still-births
involving teenagers every year.
This fact begs the question: Who
performs these abortions? Are
they professional, specialist
medical doctors or are they done
by backyard quacks?
Poor parenting and high divorce rates destroying family values
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