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Wednesday, 15 June 2016 20:27

AG Al-Rawi: Don't single out Sat on child marriages

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Attorney General Faris Al- Rawi says over the last ten years there have been 84,330 registered marriages in Trinidad and Tobago, of which 548 were of underage children.

Mr. Al- Rawi said while the focus has been on comments by the Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, and the laws governing the Hindu Marriage Act where the age of consent is 18 for males and 14 for females, child marriages are not unique to the Hindu religion.

"I don't agree that the Head of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha should be singled out. I take absolutely no offence to somebody being a strong advocate for their beliefs. We are entitled to advocate our particular beliefs and I wish to say that absolutely clearly. This is an issue across all of the religions and non-religions in so far as the Marriage Act allows for civil marriages."

A Representative from the SDMS also weighed in on the Hindu Marriage Act saying while there were 328 underage Hindu marriages, the focus should not only be placed on the statistical data but also on the qualitative reasoning.

"I noticed very clearly that we have the 17-19 age group, which is above the legal age so maybe we should consider defining them, 12, 13, 14, whatever it is."

The AG also dismissed the notion that underage marriages occur only in rural communities because of a lack of education.

He said statistics show that between 1997 and 2016, underage marriages were occurring more in urban areas such as Aranguez, Arima, Port of Spain and San Fernando.

"This is not a rural phenomenon. It is in fact a phenomenon which you can find rooted in the urban areas and therefore it is not something that you ought to label as being borne as a result of lack of access to information or education."

Cabinet has not yet made a decision on whether the legal age of marriage in Trinidad and Tobago would increase to 18 years across the board.

Read 374 times Last modified on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 09:17
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