Verna wants end to under-age marriage

By Sean Douglas
October 23, 2011 –

Verna St. Rose-GreavesMINISTER of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Senator Verna St Rose-Greaves, on Friday hinted at an end to the marriage of underage girls as now allowed by law for certain religious groups.

While the age of sexual consent is 16 years old, St Rose-Greaves said that girls are allowed to marry at age 12 or 14 years old, in allusion to special allowances made for Hindu and Muslim marriages.

“We are about to begin consultations on the Marriage Act,” she said during her contribution to 2011/2012 Budget debate in the Senate.

“We need a national discussion.”

Earlier, she lamented some 278 reported incidents of illicit sexual relations involving underaged girls. She said that was the figure reported, alluding to even more cases, unreported.

St Rose-Greaves also made the startling claim that some men deliberately use gang rape as a way to try to infect their victims with the HIV virus.

TT seems to be afraid of the word “sex education”, she said, as she called for HIV awareness to be better highlighted on the national agenda.

She also lamented the 940 reports of domestic violence last year, noting that 68 percent of these were complaints of assault by beating.

The Minister noted that of the callers to the National Domestic Violence hotline, some 86 percent were women and 12 percent were children, which suggests the remaining four percent were men.

This nation is in dire need of healing, she said, noting that 1,400 school pupils in Port-of-Spain had witnessed violence, including acts hurting family members and other persons close to them.

“We need a centre for healing,” she said.

Old wounds in the population’s psyche must be treated, so as to no longer be a burden on our collective soul or a sap on TT’s positive energies, she said.

St Rose-Greaves also proposed various centres to respectively provide family interventions, respite to warring couples, drug-counselling, and help for men in transition if they have left home due to domestic violence issues.

She said people need to be encouraged to dream again, so as to help shape the nation. Recalling her childhood, when the father of the house placed the washing-tub in the yard so the waste water would irrigate nearby food-crops, she urged that lessons in sustainable living be taught to the younger generation.

“In this country we have children cutting down entire coconut trees to get to the bunch of coconuts,” she lamented.

Vowing to soon bring children’s laws to Parliament, she proposed a database of youngsters be set up so they could be kept track of, for their own good. She said boys are generally underperforming in school, except in the areas of technical/vocational education.

St Rose-Greaves said that “gender” is not about “them women again” but about the social relations between men and women, and boys and girls.

“We want to aim for a win-win situation. We want to move away from this ting of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and ‘winner takes all,” she said.

“That’s not healthy for any society.”

She invited the public to approach her ministry to share their views.,149408.html

21 thoughts on “Verna wants end to under-age marriage”

  1. Sat: Better for girls to marry

    By Laurel V Williams
    Monday, October 24 2011

    “IS it better to build a place for young, unwed mothers than to marry underage girls?” Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Sat Maharaj asked yesterday.

    The Hindu leader was commenting on statements made last Friday in the Senate by Gender, Youth and Child Development Minister Verna St Rose-Greaves, who hinted to an end to marriages for underage girls.

    “She has no authority to pronounce that, none whatsoever. If, by accident, a 14-year-old becomes pregnant, then by consent of her parents she can be married. Is it better to build a place for young, unwed mothers than to marry underage girls?” Maharaj asked.

    According to the Muslim and Hindu religions girls as early as 12 to 14- years-old can be married with the consent of their parents.

    During her contribution to the 2011/2012 Budget debate in the Senate, St Rose-Greaves, said her ministry would soon be having consultation with a view to amending the Marriages Act of Trinidad and Tobago

    Speaking with Newsday yesterday, Maharaj said the decision to increase the age from 14 years is against Hindu Marriages Act of 1945.

    “That decision, first of all, is definitely for a community to decide. Very few people under 14 years get married in Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, within the last few years, there wasn’t any. It is there as a safety net,” suggested Maharaj.

    Islamic scholar Maulana Siddiq Nasir yesterday said he is awaiting the start of the consultation to hear what comes out of the debate.

    Nasir called for consistency when the consultation begins saying in certain states in the United States (US), 12-year-old girls can have abortions without their parents’ knowledge.

    “In the United States, a 12-year-old is competent enough to have an abortion without the parents being informed. Yet it is illegal for them to get married. We would like to see consistency here when this consultation begins,” Nasir said.

    Under Islamic law, once a girl reaches puberty she can get married, Nasir said. According to this country’s Muslim Marriage and Divorce Ordinance of the 1960s , a person can be married at age 12, Nasir told Newsday.

    He again made reference to the US saying when an 18-year-old male has sexual intercourse with a girl younger than him, it is considered statutory rape.

    “So then what is it when two underage persons have sex? Sex between underage persons is quite common (in the US). When they have the consultation here we would see what takes place,” Nasir added.,149450.html

    1. Mr. Sat Maharaj is a gentleman for whom I have great respect but his remarks on the subject of underage girls are not well articulated. As an invitation to rape that is hard to beat. Our children deserve better.

      More, our sexual offenses legislation needs revision. For example, there does not appear to be any allowance for consensual sex between juveniles. (If it is not consensual, then it is rape; an offense at any age.) I understand the concerns of some groups for the integrity of their institutions; but by any modern standard, if a girl is too young to have babies, she is far too young for marriage.

      There is no inconsistency in forbidding marriage of juveniles and permitting abortions at age 12, with or without the parents’ consent. If there is a high incidence of unsafe and illegal abortions, the options are few. Marriage, on the other hand, is a contract and I do not see how a person to young to own a house or witness a will can be competent to marry.

  2. Mom charged

    By Azard Ali
    Thursday, October 20 2011

    BEING aware that your child is engaging in sexual activity and failing to report this to a police officer, is an offence.

    A parent became the first person in Trinidad and Tobago to be charged with the offence under the Sexual Offences Act. She appeared yesterday in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court to answer the charge.

    The mother, from Cotton Hill, Bonne Aventure, Gasparillo, appeared before Magistrate Alicia Chankar on the charge that she knew her 15-year-old daughter was having sex, but failed to report the matter to a police officer. The case came up last week Friday, and the 52 year-old mother has not been called upon to plead, because the police have to seek advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) on whether to prosecute the woman summarily, or indictably.

    A summary trial is adjudicated upon by a magistrate and the sentence imposed does not exceed ten years. Indictable offences are heard in the High Court by a judge and jury.

    Attorney Sharmela Michelle Rampaul, who is representing the woman, said yesterday that the charge against her client is unprecedented, and she has since been seeking information from the court on how such a case is to be prosecuted by the police.

    Yesterday, Rampaul went to the Magistrates’ Court with the docket bearing the charge, to enquire whether the allegation against the mother, had been laid indictably, or summarily.

    “This is new to me, and even the magistrate expressed the view that it was first time she has seen such a case in the courts she sits in,” Rampaul said. The attorney added, “I do not know whether I should ask my client to plead.”

    According to Section 31 (1) of the Sexual Offences Act, any person who is a parent or guardian, has actual custody, charge or control of a minor, and who has reasonable grounds for believing that a sexual offence has been committed in respect of that minor, shall report the grounds for his or her belief, to a police officer as soon as reasonably practicable.

    A medical doctor, or a nurse, is also bound to make such a report, if upon examination of a child who is below 18, it is discovered that he or she was sexually active.

    If found guilty, the Sexual Offences Act imposes a penalty of a fine of $15,000 or imprisonment for a term of seven years.

    The magistrate has the power to impose both a fine and imprisonment.

    The case against the mother, who has seven children, will come up for hearing again on December 12.,149218.html

  3. Every nation throughout history controls women by controlling their sexual activity. By permitting young girls to get married allows for fcr control of the women in the community since in most religions the men are in charge of women. It is time that the law protect women by increasing the marital age and improving the Domestic Violence Act.

  4. A special set of circumstances should always lend way to a changed approach. However, only special set of circumstances should allow for such marriage. A 12 to 14 year old girl is still a child. She should not be sent off to peform the duties of an adult, that in my opinion is child abuse. And what kind of parents would allow their daughter to be a victim of such abuse.
    Let us keep those back ward nation practises away from T&T. Let children be children. My mother married at age 16 and gave birth to 9 children, but that was in the olden days, today people knows better or at least we think so.

  5. Her time would be better spent passing laws to guarantee gay rights and advocating an end to the archaic laws and attitudes in T&T.

  6. It has been found that in certain cases, certain places, rape charges are dropped against a perp who rapes an underage girl and them marries her. This is preying doubly on the vulnerability of a child to save the parent’s face. This practice must be outlawed in Trinidad and Tobago.
    Hormonally irriadiated food has dropped the age of menarche(menstration) in some cases as low as 8.9 years. There was a famous case in Central America of a child who became pregnant at that age, and had to go out of contry for an abortion. If we are to be percieved as a civilized country, we MUST prosecute All cases of sex with children, regardless of subsequent marriage. Do not leave any holes for those snakes to crawl into. It must also be the law, and enforced, that any birth to a girl less than 16.8 years old, be reported to the police. Too often, hospital authorities fail our children also.

    Parent education is also essential. MArrying off your child to the guy that raped her is setting her up for a lifetime of anguish.

  7. About a week ago ,an educated Liberian male-who very much adored his female ,Nobel Peace prize winning President-nearly got into a fist fight with me , as a result of my uncompromising stance re , rights of women on his continent. My position was that no society can advance , that refuse to empower it’s women, and invest in , and protect it’s kids, in their passage to adulthood.
    Such means ending genital mutilation, child soldiers, and childhood rapes of young girls , who become fodder for savage animal soldiers from Congo to Uganda, Sierra Leone , Liberia , and counting.
    In Afrika today, where genital mutilation ,is the norm, many of the barbaric acts are committed not by males, as some would think , but women, who themselves were subjected to it as kids .
    Many of these women , would subsequently ,inculcate the backward notion, in their sons ,eligible for marriage , that they must never married a woman, that did not experience a similar fate, and so the cycle continues, and the AU does nothing, while Europeans NGO scream and bawl, at the monstrosity.
    South Africa is a leader in the world’s AIDS infected population, but guess what , Nelson Mandela clueless , Yankee educated daughters , are about to do some stupid reality TV show ,that would exploit his name, and legacy for a few cheap Rands/ dollars.
    Think one episode would be allowed to focus on the repeated rape of babies, and underage girls virgins, a very popular activity in their country , where proponents think such would cure AIDS? You know the answer.
    Now , as for T&T ,before we can try to tell Indo Trinis ,of South Asian ancestry , what to do with their kids , should we as Global Afrika Nation ,not have the courage to denounce the same habits , and worst that are committed on our kids, both domestic , and global?
    Hey guys , for your info ,statutory rapes, incest, and physical abuses ,in over crowed homes ,are not only limited to poor , neglected ,illiterate , low caste Indo Trini folks, stuck chiefly below de poverty line, but likewise, desperate ,illiterate, psychologically traumatized , and powerless ,Afro -Trinis ,ignored for decades by a self aggrandizing ,fake Afrikan elite, that controlled most of the political fortunes of our country since 1962.
    People who claim to care about our country , and humanity , as a whole , should know by now, that they loose credibility, if only inclined to be selectively outraged ,re socially backward , Antediluvian ,and morally repugnant, barbaric Human Rights abuses.
    Let those of us of conscience take a stance.
    If Senator Verna St Rose-Greaves is really serious , then she fully knows who to put pressure on to effect changes on poor desperate , one time bare feet, and pregnant every other month, women from her national social enclaves. I am talking about Her Majesty Queen K.
    If she is serious about child protection , and a push for more laws aimed at enhancing lives of all citizens. Tell her give me a holler, as she cannot do it alone , and remind her that we the progressive humanist , and ready to play a part towards equal justice.
    Luv nation

  8. Musty marriage laws

    Tuesday, October 25 2011,149520.html

    Legislative measures that impinge on jurisdictions which religions traditionally consider their exclusive domain will always provoke an outcry, and the recent call from Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Senator Verna St Rose-Greaves for national consultation on underage marriage in TT has immediately stirred the ire of Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Sat Maharaj. Our view is that the reaction of the Islamic scholar Maulana Siddiq Nasir is more reasonable. Rather than dismissing out of hand dialogue on the question of the lawful marrying of 14 and 12-year-old Hindu and Muslim girls, he said he would wait for the start of the consultation to hear what comes out of the debate.

    We fail to see what harm can come from a review of musty laws, which in 2011, are viewed by most civilised countries as contrary to a young girl’s basic human rights. The Hindu Marriage Act was first passed in 1945; at the end of the Second World War. Since then woman has taken her place in modern society to become an independent, self-determining creature. The 14-year-old of 1945 is not the 14-year-old of 2011, nor are the societies in which they live equivalent. By Sat Maharaj’s own admission, 14-year-old Hindu girls in Trinidad and Tobago do not usually marry in the new millennium, so keeping an obsolescent law which is inconsistent with the age of consent serves no practical purpose.

    In defence of the Hindu Marriage Act, Maharaj argues it is a safety net for young girls who become pregnant. But what of the young girl who becomes pregnant at the hand of an older man, as is usually the case? Though nowadays boys also are becoming fathers sooner, young girls are normally attracted by a man more mature than they. By engaging in sexual relations with a 14-year-old and then being permitted to marry her, the older man has committed statutory rape which the religious community legitimises with a wedding ceremony, converting the young girl into a double victim. In 2011, a 14-year-old girl has more palatable options available to her than the 14-year-old of 1945 and a wedding is no longer considered the ideal solution to pregnancy, these shotgun marriages tending to fail more often than not.

    In most modern countries, regardless of their religious makeup, the age of marriage is on a par with or above the age of consent. We are not suggesting the amendment of other rules governing Hindu or Muslim marriages-this measure does not impact on the religious rites of the Hindu or Muslim contract nor does it reduce the obligations assumed on their signing. However, we must remember that marriage is a legal contract and when parents sign this contract for their daughters, they are as much as treating their children as property which can be transferred, the child incapable of entering into the contract of her own volition.

    While we understand religious sensitivities, Trinidad and Tobago should recall the days when rape of a spouse was not considered rape in this country, marriage and the rights of a husband to be sexually gratified deemed sacrosanct by religious groups. But as history has shown again and again religion does not own the patent on morality. In its name, people have killed and committed untold atrocities and religion can get it wrong. By having this national consultation this is TT’s opportunity to review an outdated law and decide what it wants now, in 2011, for its young girls. This is not 1945.,149520.html

  9. Genital mutilation is a barbaric practice carried out in rural Africa and the Middle East. Its most outspoken critic was Jehan SAdat, wife of the late Anwar SAdat, president of Egypt.
    Like Honor Killings in the Muslim world, where women who disgrace the family(premarital sex, bein raped, leaving an abusive husband) are killed, usually by younger brothers at the father’s insistence, and Suttee in India, outlawed moere thatn ahundred years ago, but apparently still practised in rural areas, practices that are cultural lags occur everywhere.The examples of Ms.Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson and her co-winners of the Nobel Prize, all women wo wear head coverings should go a long way to liberating the African and Middle Eastern women.
    Now, who besides Verna, wants to liberate the trini woman?

  10. Lets be serious for a minute. Do we really believe that FGM is done for women by women?? Yes it is done by women, but, and a big but, only because they are not marriageable material if they are not. So it is know any mother that wants her daughter to be marriageable material would have her daughter circumcised. In sub-saharian Africa marriage is an important cultural celebration and therefore includes most of the tribe. A mother would be really snubbed if her daughter would not be married or considered marriageable material. North of the sahara while the effects are the same the reasons are primarily to maintain the women in a subserviant role i.e. if the woman cannot have an orgasm then she would not cheat on her husband.

  11. AI said. “Do we really believe that FGM is done for women by women? Yes it is done by women,..but, only because they are not marriageable material if they are not…. if the woman cannot have an orgasm then she would not cheat on her husband….. In sub-saharian Africa marriage is an important cultural celebration and therefore includes most of the tribe. ”
    Since I am in the solution business, and have absolutely no concern, as to why any of these barbarian , savage practices -including -as Madame L so correctly , alluded to -al la, South Asian BRIDE BURNING -were originally created , where do we go from here AI, in terms of providing some solution for a group of people trapped in this dehumanizing state?
    How can we encourage female leaders in power, to stand up ,and not only speak out, but push for serious reeducation, creation of firm laws to counteract, and more importantly ,enforcement of them all?
    How could we ensure that self serving males of influence / means ,not only try to protect the rights and privileges of their own daughters, but all women across that particular society, from whence they emerged?
    At one time AI , your Indira Gandhi for example, approved sterilization of all the women in her India, maybe because she only had sons.
    Benizia Buttho ,as a pimple face student, ran around Europe and America ,in jeans ,pierce belly buttons , and obviously indulge in all sorts of unmentionable ,un muslim-like activities in both Oxford, and was it Harvard, then returned home to participate in an arranged marriage ,to an elite , corrupt crook, that fleeced her country dry.
    None of these women ,did anything to advance the cause of women in the succeeding years of power, before their eventual violent deaths, but a different subject, for another occasion.

    Madame L is asking a relevant question , as to who has the guts to speak up for Trini women . On that note ,by the way ,I heard from very reliable sources ,that in T&T , also , that young South Asian Trini males , were for decades encouraged by both fathers, and mothers, to engage in sexual activities on their under aged, stressed out sisters , in effort to ensure that he develop some experience ,that would be of value when he finds his virgin wife later.
    Put them all together , and pray tell how that prevents cheating, eventually, and in our case – less suicides, by already disgruntled , jilted husbands, and boyfriends from – your word de Trini tribe.
    While you are putting your anthropological skills to work, give us an opinion – since you failed so to do -as to why little girls are raped daily in South Africa, under the misguided notion of curing AIDS?
    A mother would be really snubbed if her daughter would not be married or considered marriageable? Such utter rubbish AI! Heavens forbid ,that there are no females to marry ,since parents decided to no longer force their daughters to engage in this stupid acts, what would the prospective men do for a bride down the road, outside of going abroad? Just remember for the record,that prior to exposure to Europeans , and other unmentionable , fringe group invaders ,homosexuality, as a practice ,was alien, to the Afrikan culture , so don’t , well, … fill in de blanks.
    Ah tell you , my good fellows , there is nothing worst than a phony, eeeehhhh?

  12. Yes, FMG is done by women who have the status of midwives in the society. I have personally known a few professional African women who have had it done. Older women in the society believe that is makes a woman more suitable for marriage as she will be focussed on satisfying her husband rather than on her on pleasure. (We must remember that until the last forty years or so, there was no role for women in AFrica other than wife and mother.)In some segments of African culture, men will not marry women who have not had the procdure done. In some other cultures, the girl is bethrothed to her future husband when she is about six and he about nine, then at puberty, she goes to live in his mother’s house to be raised as a good wife according to their culture. I do not know of any women who are raising their children in the US, who have had this surgery done to them, but some have taken their dauhters to Africa or the middle East to have it done in a sanitary hospital. One reason is because it is outlawed in the west and two because children born in the west would consider it as barbaric.
    Two dangers of FGM is that scar tissue could make sexual activity very painful, and childbirth could be extemely painful.
    It is a serious discussion issue among women of those cultures, and we in the west should shut up. We do not legislate male circumcision, in other cultures where it is practiced.

  13. You are correct Madame L , this is a serious discussion ,where educated folks should do everything feasible to end , due to it barbaric nature. One thing we can be assured of, no Afrikan , or Arab -male of female -with anything beyond a high school education, will force their daughters to engage in such stupid practices.
    By that I also mean , no president, CEO ,Tribal chief , or leading member of the society,for it is always the illiterate, low caste fools , that not only believe this ,but that also a white god, is going to save them from all sufferings, one day.
    Such is right up there with a Hindu Indian, starving him/ herself to death, while praying to a sacred cow.
    Ain’t no different to clueless Irish Catholic folks, believing ardently with a Pope , while dying to defend ‘right to life philosophy,’ even if their daughters were raped , by some savage , and her life is threatened?
    Reminds me of President Obama’s Luo ancestors ,in Kenya ,that also populate the Ugandan borders, many of whom ,are dying daily from AIDS,in part,due to unprotected sex ,yes, but also, the fact that this tribe has an ancient practice,whereby a man is entitled to INHERIT his dead brother’s wife , and enjoy all the fringe benefits , including naturally, engaging in -unprotected- sex, as part of taking care of them.

    As I said , I could care less about foolish practices encouraged by self serving leaders ,to keep their people under subjugation, and or dependent,or the opinions of confused , condescending NGO’ sand fake Westernized experts, but is looking for solutions, truly aimed at elevating a society , and collion of people , still trapped in the dark ages.
    For the record,the Chinese , for the information of the clueless, had a similar barbarian practice, called foot binding,which saw an 2 billion women Chinese women , who broke and bound their feet to attain this agonizing ideal of physical perfection. Today, they have since gotten rid of it , and is on the verge of being the next super power.

    We luv you Mao.
    However,ain’t we happy to be part of blessed T&T, where refugees are thibg of the past, and our PM , can escape a barefeet ,selling roast corn on de highway , pregnant every other year, existence,to rub shoulders with another female leader LIKE HERSELF,Julia whose parents simply migrated from Wales, to the land of aborigine folks, and eventually became PM? I wonder if any of them care about the desperate in their respective societies?
    We know fully well ,that it fits a certain narrow agenda, for some well intentioned , yet mostly misguided creatures to continually think that most women are helpless victims ,who only indulge in these practices , because men force them to, but tell them for me to get their heads out of the sand, and put pressure where it is necessary , depending on their end game. Collectively ,women posses more influence ,and power than they often recognize-but it’s dem unmentionable elites, that must get to work, by first quit demeaning men ,yes if they care, as claim?

  14. Indian leaders like Sat are simply exploiting a loop hole in the backwards laws of T&T, 1945 who’s in charge of T&T then it was the British. which hindu is on the Island’s council in 45 to make sure such an obviously pro hindu law passes?

    This support by Sat is to make sure Indians will be the absolute racial majority combined with the large influx of Guyanese Indians hell bent on creating a racial republic.

  15. Are you serious? You are comparing male circumcision to female genital mutilation ?
    And this comparison is being made to rationalise African customs?
    Am I reading this correctly?

    1. It is called female circumcision, stupid. Just as the foreskin of the male child is pulled forward about a half-inch to an inch, and cut off, forever leaving the head of the penis exposed, so female circumcision removes the external labia, and clitoris-which latter is a vestigial penis. Check your biology books before you automatically castigate something as barbaric. The Jews have practiced male circumcision for five thousand years. Have you thought of the trauma this inflicts on a small male child?
      Which western society will DARE saw the Jews are barbaric?
      Some socities practice both male and emale circumcision. They should leave the human body as God made it. This goes for breast implants, botox injections and buttock implants also.

  16. Mike in Toronto claimed ,”This support by Sat is to make sure Indians will be the absolute racial majority combined with the large influx of Guyanese Indians hell bent on creating a racial republic.”
    Just leave Uncle Sat alone , buddy , since if true ,then hats off to them. Tell you what , no one is to be blamed, if your one time Afrikan pit bull, Makandal Dagger,in contrast , prefers to spend his time ,touring the Caribbean , as some glorified toothless Ambassador , when he could be at home in T&T, keeping his feet on Her Majesty Queen K’s back, demanding economic , and social justice ,for historically ignored, and chastised people.
    What Afrikan folks need to do, is quit murdering each other, which would do more to deplete their numbers ,but start loving each other again ,so that they too can produce babies,as opposed to jumping into bed with every race on earth, due to obvious ,innate self hatred .
    The result of such stupidity? You bet, they have produced thousands of confused mixed races of people , who at the drop of a hat,would never hesitate to denounce anything Afrikan in their DNA?

    By the way, how is that former OWTU stalwart,’Cablinasian , Tiger woods like guy’ doing, whose father,if any remembered , was a former high end , Anglican Archbishop?
    Well , our boy Shastri Roberts,is all grown up now it seems, and so no longer has to jump the fence , and risk getting shot to practice swimming in local swimming pools , in dem upscale Trini enclaves, as he has evolved into a big time, legal player,yes?

    Just hope he is less confused, than that COP, political SPORTING comedian brother, who daily clowns around in the once respected ,House of Parliament.,133969.html

  17. Child marriages still practised in T&T

    St Rose-Greaves promises legislation

    By Kalifa Clyne

    More than 8,400 girls and 1,300 boys under 19 years of age were married in T&T between 1997-2007. These figures include girls under the age of 15. These were the Central Statistical Office (CSO) figures presented by Rawwida Baksh, consultant at the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development at the National Consultation on the Standardisation of the Legal Age of Marriage yesterday at Crowne Plaza, Port-of-Spain. “Research needs to be done in order to find out the dynamics taking place in these circumstances. We need to know how these young girls feel with their lives being mortgaged,” said Baksh. She revealed that T&T is one of 50 countries in the world where child marriages still take place. “In 2011, on the eve of our 50th Independence anniversary, it is anomalous that we would still have legislation that perpetuates the unequal treatment of girls,” said Baksh. Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Verna St Rose-Greaves, who said legislation treating with the issue of child protection would go to Parliament very soon, admitted that T&T lags behind in the standardisation of an age for marriage.

    According to common law in the Marriage Act of 1923, the legal age for marriage stands at 12 for girls and 14 for boys. “There is a saying on the street that ‘after 12 is lunch’ meaning once a girl is over the age of 12 she can be eaten raw sexually,” said St Rose-Greaves, who revealed that child marriages were often used as a method to avoid prosecution for sexual violations against minors, or to take the shame away from teenage pregnancies. She said for some families young girls are married off for economic reasons. St Rose-Greaves said the country’s four marriage acts are in conflict with conventions to which T&T is a signatory, including the Convention for the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. Although the Acts stipulate ages of consent, they do not give an age for marriage. The minister said consultation is needed among all interest groups to ensure protection of all the country’s children.

    St Rose-Greaves had announced her intention in Parliament last week to hold consultations on the reviewing of laws relating to child marriages. Following this Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Sat Maharaj defended the practice. In a newspaper report Maharaj criticised St Rose-Greaves for her announcement. He said: “That decision first of all is definitely for a community to decide. Very few people under 14 years get married in T&T.” Sat said however that the minority ages were there as a safety net. The four Acts dealing with marriage in T&T are: The Marriage Act which governs civil and Christian marriages and sets the age of consent at 18 for males and females. n The Marriage and Divorce Act which governs Muslim marriages and divorces and sets the age of consent at 16 for males and 12 for females The Hindu Marriage Act which sets the age of consent at 18 for males and 14 for females. However, provisions are made for persons under these set ages to be contracted in marriage with consent. The Orisha Marriage Act which sets the age of consent at 18 for males and 16 for females.


    Lord , it does not get more ridiculous than this folks! If these characters are serious about ending , once and for all , well known, Human Rights abuses on girls , and by extension women across T&T,then why don’t they do it , and quit yapping, and or pontificating?

    We know who the culprits are, and why they engage in the acts?
    The ball is in Her Majesty Queen K’s Court, ennt?
    To hell with what Sat think!
    Culture my…..!

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