By Sean Douglas
June 10, 2017 – newsday.co.tt
THE Opposition last night ditched their previous qualms and hang-ups to join with Government in the House of Representatives to change the law and end child marriage in this country. By 35 votes “for”, none against and zero abstentions, the House unanimously approved the Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Bill 2016.
On January 17, the Senate passed the bill by 23 “for”, none “against” and five abstentions, the latter comprised of Opposition Senators. The bill amends the Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, Hindu Marriage Act, Orisa Marriage Act and Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act.
Upon Speaker Bridgid Annisette- George reporting the results of the vote to the House, a clearly relieved Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said, “I would just smile for a moment. I’m elated. I thank honourable members and you Madam Speaker sincerely.” Minutes before, the taking of the vote had some moments of excitement.
Opposition chief whip David Lee was first to indicate his party’s line with a “yes” that elicited desk-thumping from the Government benches. Down the line other Opposition MPs agreed.
15 thoughts on “United House passes Marriage bill”
Alleluia! finally only awaiting assent to become law. There are ways for opposition to work with government and vice-versa for the benefit of the country. Let’s bring back the property tax bill back to Parliament for amendments and let’s see how that works.
Great! Now the government should focus on the teenage sex epidemic which is infiltrating our schools particularly those in North Trinidad. Put a plan in place to reduce teen pregnancies and the single mother phenomenon which is pervading the society.
The passing of the Bill to legitimise 18 as the minimum age for marriages completely ignored the diverse practice on marriage as a socio-cultural institution in T&T. While we all can and must support the 18 minimum age it should have not been a hard and fast law that does not cater for accidents of human life that can occur among those who have not attained 18. The Opposition made a convincing case for the establishment of a window in the law so that with parental consent and interventions by judicial officers those who are say 17 or 16 and who find themselves in compromising situations and decide to marry say in the Hindu community or other groups could have done so given the extenuating circumstances. This law can cause a lot of difficulties to young people and should have been drafted to be more inclusive and more flexible in its reach. In some communities pregnancies by unmarried couples are no big thing. But in the Hindu and Moslem communities this occurrence is frowned upon and negative stigma is attached to the hapless persons. This will be seen in the future with abortions and the further proliferation of single parent-female households.
Every country must be governed by laws and civility. While marriage is one of those events that might be covered under the laws of civility, we owe it to ourselves and society at large to be prudent and understanding on how we interact with each other.
Be it by marriage, friendship, neighbor, community, regionally, nationally or otherwise, the way we conduct ourselves can create harmony or chaos. When chaos steps in, then governance becomes a problem. When there are problems, we all all affected by them. We all understand laws. In the case of marriage, sex is big concern. If no limits are set and with pornography at such a heightened usage, havoc can be created in an otherwise well run society.
What Stephen is insisting on, is the same-oh same-oh situation that has caused so much division since the ‘arrival’ of eastern cultures on this island – differences.
Differences allow the ‘different’ to get away with things others cannot consider doing. We are aware that people come from different backgrounds, we are aware that people have different cultures, we are aware that people worship differently but why do we (as a society) have to constantly stress on our differences?
These differences is the cause of most of our problems in the first place. Part of the problems of these ‘differences’ is what causes old men, to think that they can prey on little children and get away with it. Most reasonable people would agree that eighteen is a reasonable ‘age of consent’. It is an age where one can make decisions that can affect them for the rest of their lives. So why continue to fight that? Hindu practices allow you to discriminate – so do you want to continue to discriminate? Hindu practices allows one to be considered inferior and superior – so do you allow this to be part of our society? Hindu practices allow young brides to be abused by their in-laws – so do we allow tolerance of this practice?.
The point I am making Stephen, is that at some point we ALL should be governed by laws irrespective our differences but at the same time creating an atmosphere of harmony and civility, whereby we can ALL look at wrongs and easily identify them as ‘wrong’. It also makes governance much simpler and safer for all. I went to a country in the far east and saw an old crippled white American man in a wheel chair, holding on to a little boy no more than 12 years old, taking him into a motel to have sex with him.
I am sure by your standard and mine this is preposterous. But because the man came from America, considered wealthy and have money (and probably) white, he can come into another man’s country allowing such practices and literally fornicating in the most promiscuous way with someone else’s ‘little boy’. Do you want us to accommodate such ‘differences’ in Trinidad and Tobago Stephen? I am sure you will so NO resoundingly.
No one is insulting your hindu or muslim religion by saying the legal age for marriage is eighteen. It is an age where one can reasonably be considered ‘an adult’. That is fair and regardless of our differences we can ALL live with that!
Don’t be too carried away with ‘differences’, we all do have ours but at some time society becomes a better place when we can compromise on some practices that we can ALL LIVE WITH.
You are quite right. It is an old principle. The stranger in the land has always been required to adhere to the law of the land.
“Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.” (Leviticus 17:12)
That is simple, also fair. The stranger may always leave if the laws (and customs) of the land are not to his liking. How simple is that. When in Rome, do as the Romans.
The idea that a host country should accommodate itself to the customs of immigrants is a stupidity. That way leads chaos, as I believe we are starting to see in Britain. But that’s another story, and another country.
To suggest that Indians in T&T are recent “immigrants” is preposterous. If Indians are classified as immigrants , then all occupants of T&T except the indigenous ,original natives should also be classified as immigrants. To suggest that T&T is a host country that should NOT accommodate the customs of “immigrants” is a racist, Trump-like dictate which has no place in the modern world and global village.
I am disappointed that Black contributors on this site are adopting the conservative, right-wing, discriminatory roles of their former White slave owners. Pity!
East Indians were indentured immigrants. Slaves weren’t immigrants. They were kidnapped.
“Slaves were chattel. Slavery was a violent system of conquest and domination. Africans were kidnapped in the interior of the continent, marched to the coastline and packed in vessels like inanimate cargo. Some never left the ships alive because of inhospitable conditions on board. The “Middle Passage,” as it was called, was a deeply alienating journey into hell. These were one-way voyages with no chance of return.”
This article could help…
You miss the point.
The East Indian is the Johnny-come-lately. The creole civilization they met on arrival had been formed long prior, –by over 200 years,– to their arrival.
They are still the Johnny-come-lately. They should adapt themselves, not the other way ’round.
“One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.” (Exodus 12:49)
“One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before Yahweh.” (Numbers 15:15)
In other words, the stranger (johnny-come-lately) is not allowed to do according to his preferred custom, if that is in conflict with the law and custom of the host.
You must not confuse and substitute differences for diversity and I am not supporting your proof by misleading example of an American having sexual relations with a child.
I am speaking of legislation at the cultural level exclusively and advanced countries such as Canada, UK, USA and more than 60 others have appreciated the diverse composition of their societies and how that contributes to the richness of their human capital as it has done so conspicuously in Mother T&T whether you will admit it or not today. The world today is rapidly becoming multicultural.
“According to Jewish law, when Jewish boys become 13 years old, they become accountable for their actions and become a bar mitzvah. A girl becomes a bat mitzvah at the age of 12 according to Orthodox and Conservative Jews, and at the age of 13 according to Reform Jews.”
The word mitzvah means commandment and bar means son, bat means daughter. At these official ceremonies the boy and girl is welcome into adulthood, they are now responsible for their own action, could earn property and get married.
In western culture someone set the age of adulthood as 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. This standard of responsible has been shifted by psychologist to age 24 for boys when it is believe that the frontal lobe that governs reasoning is fully developed.
The issue of child marriage is defined from culture to culture. For instance anyone under the age of 18 years in TNT is now officially deemed a child. Meaning they can’t get married, vote, pay property tax, own property, be responsible for their own action. But they can have sex, get pregnant, have a baby and live in common law relationships until the age of 18 years. When Caesar officially welcomes them as societal adults. Of course under the Romeo clause sex before 18 is acceptable. School girl pregnancies does not count.
When did the government decide that they were the guardians and protector of marriage? Marriage used to be a religious institution for centuries until of late government started deciding on the issue. What about Stateism and its encroaching power over the lives of all citizens religious or none religious.
Sadly this government did not consult with religious bodies who were willing to up the age of marriage to 16 with parental and judicial consent, a practice common in the United States the world’s first democracy.
I support marriage but all laws cannot be painted with the same big brush of Stateism, where a few elected people with strong and sometimes misplaced political agendas get to decide for over a million citizens. The laws of the land cannot be agenda driven but must take into consideration all the nuances of nationhood. Allowing for such nuances instead of criminalizing what we all know and experience at some point in life human sexuality.
Will the government now with its new found powers having entered the nation’s bedroom chose to stay there? What other broad brush do they have lurking to use in the not too distant future. An ecclesiastical government with a broad agenda will not stop at all the markers of separation between church and state. We await!
“Will the government now with its new found powers having entered the nation’s bedroom chose to stay there?”
“When did the government decide that they were the guardians and protector of marriage? “….. Mamoo
WHAT A FOOLISH STATEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sometimes I get the feeling that many people who profess to be ‘educated’, either do not understand the purpose of an education or probably use the gained education to fool those who may appear to be less ‘educated’. Those two statements are meant to appease and CANNOT BE CONSIDERED serious from a perspective of national governance. Government (with a small g), has a basic responsibility to every single citizen, to protect and maintain a healthy atmosphere that will enable each of us to feel an umbrella of hope and comfort. Such feelings might be literal or figurative but it is nevertheless a threshold of security that the state must establish for each and every citizen.
In order to maintain an orderly society general laws MUST EXIST where ALL might adhere to, in order for us to identify a statute that we are expected to uphold. As civilizations and industrialization exist to maintain a coherent society, laws MUST BE enacted and administered in order for civility to be a reality in our lives. There are some behaviors that are a natural part of our existence. Behaviours such as sex, love, marriage, play, looking for food, lodging, access to health care etc etc are basic human needs. Not because each and everyone of these acts are personal mean that we are free to do them anyway and anyhow WE CAN. Laws become the defining factor on how we go about doing these personal things. If we do not set authoritative definitions on how some of these acts may be conducted, it can lead to chaos and disruption in society at large. Marriage is such a case. If an age to marry is not established do we allow a man of 74 to marry a child of fourteen? Do we allow a man who has festish to animals to marry animals? Do we allow a man to marry as many women as he wants? EVEN YOU Mamoo will agree that we need ideals by we accept the standard of marriage. Prior to your arrival there were constitutional guarantees (christian) that were adhered to. Why should we now abolish that standard to suit your cultural habits?
If we continue to focus all our standards solely on our differences, there could NEVER be any real progress. I notice with interest that the Opposition Leader was not in Parliament for the vote on the marriage bill, even though her part supported it. Do you know what that tells me? It says that even though she knows that it is the right thing to do, she did not want to seem in contradiction of what Sat Maharaj considers an assault on his religious beliefs. So, in order to show respect for Sat, she decided to not attend its passing. Sad, very sad for a person who9 wants to be respected by ALL.
Government has all the right reasons to set national goals. Government has the authority to control public behavior (not sex in the bedroom), it has the responsibility to determine at what age a man becomes a husband and a woman becomes a wife. Of course no one can control sex but the individuals themselves. But the effect of sex can be and most times do become public business. Hospitalization, medical care, social assistance, marriage contracts etc etc are a natural outgrowth of marriage in which the government plays a large part. And that is what made the beginning statements by Mamoo sound illiterate.
The horrible impact of slavery cause several things to diminish in the Africana world view. (1) the value of marriage. Slavery had the most corrosive and destructive effect on marriage. Common law relationship became the inherent norm. The slaves did not understand the concept of family after being ripped apart by an agregious system. Today unwed mothers and a promiscuous husband who view his role as seed planter and gigolo. The highest number of unwed mothers remains in the PNM strongholds along with the highest teen pregnancies and child molestation. These statistics is frightening. I remember many years ago working with some young ladies in a housing project. All of them were from single parent homes. By the time they turn 18 years old, some had left home, others had turn to prostitution, but the majority had babies, with no father around. I remember an elderly gentleman telling me, “they don’t stand a chance” he was right. He knew sexual predators were eyeing them and waiting for the right opportunity. With no father figure and an absent mother the majority of them grew up by their grandparents….
(2) the role of government. In the Africana mindset government holds the highest privilege over all affairs in society, including what goes on in the privacy of the nation’s bedroom. The current prime minister said “women need to choose their men carefully because I can’t be the body guard outside their bedroom”. In effect he was said if he could he would and that is the attitude of this PNM administration. So it comes as no surprise all these new bedroom laws coming out of the woodworks!
*Sat eyes lawsuit: Govt in our bedrooms
Published on Jun 11, 2017, 10:50 pm AST
By Michelle Loubon
The State is inviting itself in the bedrooms of the population. The State could find itself in court. Once we start at the official stage, we will go straight up to the Privy Council.”*
No you won’t Sat… It is not ‘politically/economically wise’ to keep this issue alive… hInduism will find itselves a subject for the people of T&T to study.
It seems this was Sat’s last stand… Imagine the PNM Indians actually took a stand against him… Wow!!! and the UNC voted for the bill.
Captured land Trinidad,just like yesteryear, when buccaneer mercenaries fought for the islands on behalf of their European nations, today a struggle of a different kind is happening in present time.Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve has never been adhered to when we look at the compilation of the ethic groups that make up the Trinidad landscape. nothing said must be left unanswered, all judgements must be appealed, there must be a continuum to political conflicts, eg the newly passed law of underage marriage. The Hindu leadership have taken it to heart, and presently contemplating asking for the law to be mitigated, does Mr Maharaj have the full backing of the entire Hindu community in Trinidad? you see, Hinduism in its true sense, have no centralized religious authorities, no ecclesiastical order,no governing body, no prophets nor any binding holy books. They can chose to be Polytheistic, Pantheistic,Monistic or Atheistic, Spirituality is an individual experience, so in other words, one can chose to do whatever he wants to do or be.There are three ways of spiritual practice,Jhana: the way of knowledge, Shakti: devotion and Karma Yoga: the way of selfless action, all tremendously soul searching human sciences, and if contaminated politically? the effects can be devastating.In the 19th century, Guru Vivekananda added Raga Yoga,the way of contemplation and meditation. Trinidadians will be in a very perilous situation if they refuse to to add these to what was given to them coming out of SLAVERY and colonialism. Of the three disciplines, Jhana, the way of knowledge, is the one most lacking in Trinidad, you see, it is the way to WISDOM, ever continuing.HOTEP.
Sorry Cooper, I disagree, hInduism does have a book of rules. We missed it when Sat stated that hInduism does have a ‘manuscript’…
The Laws of Manu IX, v94(Manu-smriti).. A man, aged thirty years, shall marry a maiden of twelve who pleases him, or a man of twenty-four a girl eight years of age; if (the performance of) his duties would (otherwise) be impeded, (he must marry) sooner.
Comments are closed.