In a press release, the groups asked for the age of consent for civil and religious marriages to be raised to 18 but they also want consideration of the request of the Hindu Women's Organisation for permission to be granted, in special cases and with strict checks and balances, for marriage from the age of 16.
The Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), St. Augustine Campus Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago, WOMANTRA and others have called for Sections 20, 26, 27 and 28 of the Children Act, 2012 to be repealed and put into law guidelines to determine, case by case, whether minors engaging in sexual activity should be prosecuted. Among the seven factors to be taken into consideration are evidence of coercion the age gap between the two parties and emotional maturity.
The organisations also want Government to put into law the age of consent to medical services as 16 years, provide, in the law, that guidelines are to be worked out for determining the Gillick competence of a child (to find out whether the child is sufficiently mature and intelligent to give valid consent for medical attention), and revise Section 31 of the Sexual Offences Act to allow medical personnel to provide sexual and reproductive health services to any Gillick-competent child with no requirement to report the child and no fear of prosecution.
Public consultation must also be held, importantly a special effort must be made to involve young people in this consultation and the draft legislation should be circulated for public comment before the Parliament goes on its 2016 mid-year recess.
Other recommendations include the introduction of appropriate legislative measures to terminate the marriage if desired, expand the social safety net to support married children who wish to leave the marriage, provide spaces in which children who leave their marriage can access essential health, educational and financial services, as well as the necessary counseling to assist them in managing their lives in their changed situation and provide health, social and other programmes to support those who remain in the marriage.