By Raffique Shah
June 01, 2016
It is amazing, though not surprising, how easily our people can be distracted from the important issues that we face as a nation, currently galloping crime and an economy in crisis.
Last week, everyone, from captain to crook, was consumed in debate over a rather stupid statement that Harrypersad Maharaj, issued on behalf of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), which called on Government to not change existing laws that allow for Muslim and Hindu girls, aged 12 and 14 respectively, to be legally wedded.
How that issue happened to engage the attention of the geriatric geezers who form the IRO council, executive or whatever, remains a mystery, especially after several denominations denied that they had been present at the meeting, or had agreed to support child marriages.
I tried but could not imagine these hard-back men, and maybe one hard-faced woman, meeting at a time when rivers of blood are running through the streets and alleys of the country, when hundreds, maybe thousands of workers are thrown on the breadline, when so many institutions have seemingly collapsed, and all they could discuss was a law as archaic as their brains that keeps little girls in legal bondage.
I say legal bondage because that is precisely what it is: not one of those imams or pundits would dare tell their 12 year-old granddaughter (well, their daughters will surely be adults) that she must marry the big-belly man-in-the-van. She would slap their sagging faces.
Put another way, when last has anyone heard of or known about a 12 year-old being forced into marriage with any adult, least of all with some man who could be her ancestor? Do you think Harry or any of his Hindu or Muslim brethren will have their 14 year-old forego her education, scuttle her career path to marry some “locho”? Never!
So, other than removing such abominable laws from the statute books-and there are many other archaic laws that we need to dump-this is not an issue we should be preoccupied with, not when there are other matters of urgent national importance.
In fact, one such issue is related: it is well established that underage sex, meaning between boys and girls below eighteen, is rampant across the country, although it becomes an issue only when some girls become pregnant or contract serious sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS, or maybe die in childbirth.
And lest many my age, or adults 40 and over turn up their noses in sanctimonious disgust at the mere thought of underage sex, let me remind them that such behavior has been around almost forever. Back in my boyhood days in the 1950s, some girls would mysteriously drop out of school, only to resurface later with “popos” in tow.
The wealthy and high society people sent their pregnant daughters abroad. As for the boys, you could not reach 15 and not have sex, even if you had to lie to your equally-lying peers!
Been there, done that, so let us not pretend we were saints and the current lot sinners.
With instant pornography piled onto peer pressure, and with the hormones acting up earlier because of today’s lifestyles and diets, we must accept that many, if not most, underage teens are sexually active.
Marrying them off in accordance with Harry’s laws is not the answer. There are several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are equipped to counsel the children about sex, pregnancy, diseases, and so on. Government must fund them (and insist on accountability) and lend other support.
Also, the laws that govern underage sex must not be so structured to make criminals of boys who engage in consensual sex with underage girls. Such laws must target adults, especially hard-back men who exploit children, including family members, relatives, professionals and the wealthy.
Rape or sexual exploitation is not a low-class thing: it never was. Rapists come in all guises, from the tattooed, tank-topped caveman to the nattily-dressed, limousine-driving ape. The law must put such beasts behind bars for life-plus a few years!
These are children-related issues that we should focus on and help resolve: forget the religious creatures from Jurassic lagoon. Let these nubile girls enjoy their childhood years since there is not much happiness on the horizon as they face the inevitability of adulthood in an increasingly inequitable world without pity.
We should be formulating strategies and implementing programmes to steer young boys away from lives of crime, from the clutches of gangsters who offer them leadership that they cannot find among politicians, priests, teachers or non-criminal community leaders.
Gang leaders have become surrogate fathers, providers, role models to thousands of youths.
That should bother us-not Harry and his cohorts. They will soon pass on, as will their repugnant laws. The boy-criminals will remain to make our lives hell.
9 thoughts on “Sex and the geriatric preachers”
Marriage is a place of security for the purpose of raising the next generation of children. There are no ideal age but boy 25 girl 21 seems to be the best age. Most girls today prefer to go to school get an education, start a career and get married later in life after career has been established.
According to statistics there has been a little over 534 such marriages in past 10 years. Meanwhile teen pregnancies for that cohort has skyrocketed. Teenagers giving birth left to raise a child alone, that child is easily adopted into a family with the gang leader playing the role of father. I don’t have statistics but I am sure teen pregnancies run into the thousands.
About a year ago a young mother with 9 children no husband and no place to stay was featured in the media. Would her life be diffrent if the law required the man to marry her and raise their children. That was contemplated in the US with 72% of African American women giving birth outside of marriage. In Jamaican a similar statistic where girls are expected to have sex at an early age outside of marriage.
The next generation of children is best raised in a home with father and mother, lost in the conversation is the children born to these teens. What kind of future do these children have given the high cost of everything. It is a known fact in studies done in LA that children raised by mother alone for girls they either become promiscuous or the total opposite, cold towards men.(I’ve known both). The boys grow up with a lot of anger due to poverty turn to gangs or a life of crime. Or these children given enough financial and emotional support by grandparents turn out to do very well excelling in studies. I have family where I have observed this. I have seen the genius as well as the criminal.
One cannot throw out the baby with the bath water. Circumstances should allow in law for marriage with parental consent for children under the age of 18. I would say raising the age from 12 and 14 to 16 for girls and 18 for boys is a reasonable move given the benefits of two parenting and the fact that high teenage pregnancies cannot be ignored. Also factored in is parental support which is crucial for a pregnant unemployed teen. That is guaranteed under marriage. Over to you Faris.
Mamoo,your assertion that “According to statistics there has been a little over 534 such marriages in past 10 years.” is noteworthy as a matter of course. But that is a statistic.
Most ordinary people like you and me quote statistics and then take the numbers to use either as an advantage or quote as a number that work for us or work against us. Statistics however, becomes a problem when it is used improperly. What statistics does, is indicate a situation and numbers indicate how good or bad it might be or how it is likely to become. That is the reason why we desperately need sociologists in a developing society. They are the people who use those numbers gathered as a guide, not as facts but as indicators of what might be facts. Behind numbers, there is real social activities that the sociologist must determine is good or bad for the society.
In this respect, as you quoted there were 524 underage marriages. Using the position of Sat Maharaj, one can ascertain like you did, there are likely to be 524 multiplying factors of societal dtysfunctioning families, creating a possible 2,570 individuals who can become a threat to the society. It can also be said that 524 underage children may have been deprived of their childhood because 524 old, hardback men were using the advantage of hindu customs to sexually abuse young girls, who have lost their future by virtue of marriage, to satisfy their sexual lust. It can also be construed to believe that, by religion provides a pool of virgins to satisfy the lust of old hardback men to prey on. What could have been the future of these children, if they were allowed to become good and responsible adults, making a bright and productive
contribution to society? The number of 524 that you gave can have many, many possibilities. Not just the one you wanted us to believe. It may not be all negative or all positive, but the potential to do harm to the society can be alarming. What sociologists do is provide possible solutions to real problems. They are interventionists and are an important asset to a growing population. I am not criticizing your use of statistics, all I am doing is pointing out how it can be used to have a productive impact on our societal problems. I will leave it at that for now and allow others to put in their two cents worth.
Kian the reason that figure was quoted in 10 years there has been about 54 marriages per year with girls under 18 years. That’s not a lot when compared to in the same period a few thousand pregnant underage girls. These girls will live in poverty because it cost a lot to raise a child. Why isn’t there the same level of outrage for men who impregnate little girl and cause them to have a baby or worst an abortion?
With the setting of the age limit maybe it’s a good thing. Law enforcement should put their efforts
Into apprehending the adult men who sexually abuse these children. That should be made a priority.2
548 child marriages over last 10 years
THERE has been an increase in child marriages over the past two decades, with 548 certified marriages of children between the ages of 12 and 16, occurring during a ten-year period, from 2006 to 2016, Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said yesterday.
NCIC head Sharma: Laws outdated, time to change them
PRESIDENT of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) Deokienanan Sharma says child marriage laws are outdated and the time has come to change them.
Views on child marriage myopic
A MUSLIM cleric has described as “legal window dressing”, calls for the change in the legal age of marriage among girls to coincide with the Sexual Offences Act, saying that sexual abuse of children lies not in the age of marriage, but with criminal conduct.
The issue is about a religious organization continuing the practice of child marriages. It can be argued that the discussion of statistics and child pregnancies is an attempt to make a wrong thing right.
So I will focus my views on the ranting of the Secretary General of the Hindus, Mr. Sat Maharaj.
In life, I think I should be ENTERTAINED, EDUCATED or ENLIGHTENED. Mr. Maharaj’s speech (if I can call it that) did neither, although there are some of us who will be well pleased that “he cuss up he tail.”
What the Mighty Sat failed to do, was to enlighten the population of the doctrines of his religion that supports the practice of child marriages. Anything short of that is just simply child abuse. Give us the reason(s) why this is so. Telling another religious leader to mind his own business and to go to hell, does not cut it for me.
We can recall a former Hindu Prime Minister of T&T on a trip to India, as a leader of one point something million people, stooped down or cocked her behind in the air (I was not there) to kiss the foot of some old Indian lady. A reason was given, as lame as it might have been.
It must be noted Frontsman that the legal age for marriage is 18 in India, where there are 800 million Hindus. So I don’t know what Sat is talking about. If a parent is caught marrying off their underage daughter they could be charge and sent to jail.
Eleven African nation’s top the list of underage child marriages with Niger in with the highest child marriages at 75%. India is in at 13 on the list but only because these marriages are done in remote areas and are hidden from government authorities. That however is changing.
There has been a lot of focus on Hindu marriages but the real hidden culprit is Islam. Their prophet at 57 years old married a 9 year old child. So they try to replicate that at some point in time. Islam is the only religion that does not have a problem with age difference. It is not unusual in Islamic nations to find 8 year old girls married off with 80 year old men. A nurse once told me that the Muslim girls in Britan is brought to the hospital where they smell because their reproductive system has been rupture and they suffer internal bleeding… She said nobody says anything about this because they don’t want to get involved…..
Sat said there were no Underage Hindu marriages in the last 2 years. This is a good sign. Hindu girls are getting an education and career. The real problem is underage teen pregnancies which continue to rise.
So finally ,we are getting to de ‘nitty gritty/ heart of the matter ,’ as we like to say on the streets.
In both India , and Pakistan, girls are an endangered species. There is a strong possibility , that they might be likewise , in T&T , as well.
In India ,and Pakistan, they burn , and stone, in T&T, Guyana , and Surinam , are the demographics of a certain tribe is skewed ,the statics would show high levels of suicides.
The bigger question to ask is- are these really suicides , as proclaimed by families ,or rather murder?
Hopefully the Children Authority, and that NGO ARK,ain’t a day late ,and a dollar short, re this barbaric practice.
Hey Mr AG , hopefully , you and your PM,and party aren’t talking through all five sides of your mouth.
Simply ensure provisions are put in place to , arrest, try, and convict all religious leaders, and parents, who indulge in underage marriages.
Any Health care official, who deliver , or practice abortion on an underage kid , then refuse to inform the relevant authorities,should pay a price , re the court system. Any parent who gives consent to underage marriage should be arrested.
Time to make a stance T&T. Just don’t let dem , anti -child rights barbarians , overrun de Trini Pearly gates , si?
Time for Sat to go. He is trying to defend the indefensible.
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