You know you probably need something strong to drink when the least controversial bit of an interview is the complete rejection of a woman’s right to an abortion.
Brother Harrypersad Maharaj, head of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), made it clear in a Power 102 FM interview—in 2016 mind you—that under no circumstances would Trinidad and Tobago’s religious leaders fathom the possibility of giving up the right to marry children as young as 12 or 14 years old.
Let me repeat that: while the country is fretting over a soaring murder rate, a crumbling economy and a ludicrously outdated traffic law, the top of the to-do list for “Dirty Harrypersad” and the boys is hanging on to State-sanctioned pedophilia.
In surely one of the greatest ironies of modern time, a country that will arrest a mother for corporal punishment is happy to let the same mother give her daughter away for a hard-back man to make mas.
Allow Mr Live Wire to speak candidly here. If you’re planning your wedding and your bridal registry is at Toys R Us, then you’re sick as $%^&!
But as much as Maharaj has rightfully replaced the Lue Shues as the country’s villain of the week—thoroughly screwed local gymnast Thema Williams is 20 years old, after all—he is not the only religious leader worthy of some e-tomatoes and worse.
Maharaj pointed out that 17 of the IRO’s 25 members came out for their religious meeting, which somehow was allowed to proceed without any police intervention under the anti-gang legislation.
And, according to the IRO boss, all 17 voted unanimously to defend the right of certain religious sects to marry young girls.
(Harrypersad did not say whether dalliances with alter boys or fiddling with photoshop were also on the holy agenda).
Enter Bishop Claude Berkley, head of Trinidad and Tobago’s Anglican Church, to set the record straight.
And, let’s face it, shooting down the right to molest children should have been as easy as fishing with dynamite.
According to the United Nations: “child marriage is a human rights violation… (that lingers only) because of persistent poverty and gender inequality.”
Although, to be fair, the latter insinuation clearly gives Dirty Harrypersad way too much credit.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 stated: “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”
And that was even before the 80kph speed limit.
While girlsnotbrides.org—which leaned on passages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)—suggested that child marriage: affects children’s and women’s rights to health, education, equality, non-discrimination and to live free from violence and exploitation; and when children are bought and sold under the guise of marriage for the purposes of sexual exploitation or when they are trafficked into forced marriages, their cases meet internationally recognised definitions of slavery or slavery-like practices.
So what say ye, Bishop Berkley? Does God love pedophiles?
“Asked if such a decision (to defend the Marriage Act which allows girls as young as 12 and 14 to be married) was unanimous,” stated LoopTT, “the Bishop said it is difficult to get consensus in a matter such as this when you are in a place of contention.”
That’s right Bishop Berkley refused to clarify whether or not he voted to allow Maharaj and his merry men free access to our Girls Scouts’ cookies.
“In 2011, there was a national consultation and there were concerns were expressed as to if we were infringing codes we were signatory too,” Berkley told LoopTT, “such as the rights of the child and in that way we are looking at it to see if we are in sync.”
Yes. But, five years later, didn’t your religious body just give those concerns the full R Kelly after-party special?
“We need to decide what our standards are,” said Berkley. “We are a melting pot of peoples and nations and therefore we would have mixed practices but at the same time as one nation we need to decide the level that we operate on.”
Hold up. Tell us more about the child molesters that you are encouraging in our national pelau…
“I am not against the discussion of the role of religion in governing laws,” said Berkley. “In some situations, the practice and culture have changed the mechanisms that allowed the system to work. We need to bring the discussion on and have these hard questions grappled with.”
You are not against the discussion?! That’s your retort when your IRO colleague is talking about grappling with girls who should be watching Phineas and Ferb?!
“What do we as a nation require?” Berkley continued. “Even if there may be a point of not wanting sex education if it was a national policy various groups would have to allow for interventions to bring this in place.
“What we have is everyone talking about my rights but as a nation, the mother of consensus is lacking. We have not agreed on a way forward.
“If that is a national policy in education we have to see how that could be enforced in a place of worship or in school. We have a lot of conversations to happen.”
And at that point, when Bishop Berkley morphed a chat about pedophilia into a discussion on sex education, referendum and State policy on education, Mr Live Wire had a eureka moment.
There might be a logical reason that Dirty Harrypersad is the head of the IRO.
True, he might have an abnormal, criminal obsession with Austin and Ally viewers. But at least he isn’t a bleeding hypocrite.
If back-pedalling from under-fire colleagues, hurdling morals and tossing away shame were Olympic events, Bishop Berkley might have put Usain Bolt to shame in Rio!