The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament late Friday gave the green light to legislation outlawing child marriage with Prime Minister Keith Rowley urging legislators to end the disadvantage and discrimination in life prospects suffered by girls who enter marriage at an early age.
The Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Bill 2016 amends the Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, Hindu Marriage Act, Orisa Marriage Act and Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act.
It was passed in the Senate on January 17 and during the vote in the House of Representatives on Friday, 35 legislators voted in support of the new measure.
The other six legislators, including Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar, were not present when the vote was taken.
“I would just smile for a moment. I’m elated. I thank honourable members and you Madam Speaker sincerely,” said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi after the results of the vote had been announced.
The bill raises the age of marriage to 18, as recommended by the United Nations, Al-Rawi said.
The bill, which was first brought to Parliament in December 2016, has been subject to extensive debate inside and outside the Parliament.
During the various debates in the Senate and Lower House, Al-Rawi said between 1996 and 2016, the Registrar General recorded 3 478 child marriages, with almost 98 per cent being females.
He said further, marriage certificates showed that some of them were girls as young as 11 and 12 who were married to men as old as 36, 42 and 56.
Earlier, Prime Minister Rowley had urged legislators to support the bill so as to end the disadvantage and discrimination in life prospects suffered by girls who enter marriage at an early age in what he said are often lopsided arrangements. (CMC)
Published on Nation News on June 11, 2017.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.