Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Hindu Women: UNC misleading public; We have NOT changed stance on child weddings!

Hindu Women: UNC misleading public; We have NOT changed stance on child weddings!

“The Hindu Women’s Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago reiterates its call for the age of 18 to be established as the legal age of consent to marry with provisions for 16-18 year olds under strict checks and balances as outlined further below.

“In so doing, we seek to correct the misleading statement made by temporary Senator Basdeo Seetahal in the Senate debate of 11 January 2017.”

The following release on the proposed amendment to the Marriage Act was submitted by the Hindu Women’s Organisation:

Photo: Child brides and their husbands in Yemen.
Photo: Child brides and their husbands in Yemen.

The Hindu Women’s Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago reiterates its call for the age of 18 to be established as the legal age of consent to marry with provisions for 16-18 year olds under strict checks and balances as outlined further below.

In so doing, we seek to correct the misleading statement made by temporary Senator Basdeo Seetahal in the Senate debate of 11 January 2017.

We have not rescinded our position as he claimed.

Our final statement on the Marriage Acts of Trinidad and Tobago was submitted to the Attorney General’s Office on 20 July 2016. This took the form of a position paper with the heading “Interrogating marriage for 14 year-olds.”

Our position, articulated since 2012 in the resolution coming out of the Marriage Act Public Discussions held by the organisation that year, is that the Marriage Acts should be updated to reflect the age of consent for sexual relations.

This resolution of 6 June 2012 was presented to the Minister of Legal Affairs in 2013, with our petition to amend the Marriage Acts accordingly.

Photo: Child marriages are still legal in Trinidad and Tobago.
Photo: Child marriages are still legal in Trinidad and Tobago.

In 2015, the age of consent to sexual relations was changed to 18 years through the Children’s Act which also included a “Romeo clause”. We therefore submitted a revised resolution to update our position. This stated as follows:

BE IT RESOLVED:

That while we promote marriage between people who are 18 years old and over, we recognise that in certain circumstances it may be desirable for a girl between 16 and 18 to be married, but that this should be done:

a) With her own consent and the consent of her parent(s) or guardian(s);

b) That female parents have equal rights of consent;

c) After parties wishing to be married have received pre-marital counselling by qualified professional counsellors;

d) After an application is made to a judge in Chambers or a specially appointed committee by the President of the Republic in order to determine the circumstances of each case;

e) Only after it is determined that the person to whom the between 16-18 year old girl is to be married is not undertaking the marriage for purposes of exploitation and;

Photo: Majed, 25, (left) and his eight year old child bride, Ghana, in Yemen. (Copyright ABC News)
Photo: Majed, 25, (left) and his eight year old child bride, Ghana, in Yemen.
(Copyright ABC News)

f) In cases where the person to whom the 16-18 year old girl is to be married is no older than three (3) years her senior at the time of marriage.

Yours sincerely,

Brenda Gopeesingh,

President,

Hindu Women’s Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago.

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45 comments

  1. Y’know what? I have a great idea for a follow-up piece.

    Since Sat Maharaj wants to throw arbitrary numbers around, hows about you compile:

    *The total number of child marriages for 2016.
    *The number and percentage of child marriages that occurred between boys and girls of the same age.
    *The number and percentage of child marriages that occurred between male children and adult women, adult being over 18.
    *The number and percentage of child marriages that occurred between female children and adult men, adult being over 18.

    In fact, just because I feel EXTRA petty, forget over 18… Check for over 30. It’s time this nastiness be exposed for what it is. >:(

    What say you, Wired868?

  2. The picture in this article is of a muslim family in Afghanistan. #Factcheck haha

  3. we can see how many sickos this country has.. those who want child brides is pure sickos..

  4. Was he speaking on his own behalf?

  5. Why is it that in the 21st Century, in a plural society that calls itself progressive, has strong female leaders has had a female PM, House & Senate Speakers etc.. We STILL have an old world law that tramples the rights of children and women????..
    Isn’t that discrimination and unconstitutional?
    Or am I missing something ?
    Does it matter that the nos of marriages have dwindled..WTH…its abuse!

  6. Hello!!UNC ALLWAYS MISLEADING PEOPLE AH BUNCH OF CROOKS!!!

  7. The provisions give it a stamp of approval!!!! One law for all please Brenda Gopeesingh.

  8. But why does Sat’s stance overwhelm the general populations stance on this ….. f*** him!!! Racist child f*****

  9. That is atvantage these children cannot even pee so good no period yet them is bbbbbbaaaaaabbbbbbyyyyyyiiiiiiiieeeeessss

  10. These Hindu Leaders are really living in the 18th century. In today’s world underage marriage is now called pedophilia.

  11. Scotty Ranking

    Why aren’t more women’s groups involved in this debate? I’m sure that the HWO isn’t the only one with an opinion about/against child brides. Where is Hazel Brown, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt et al? The NWAC? The women’s arms of political parties?
    Stand up and let your voices be heard in this debate!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Wait, are we still pretending that this isn’t about shielding pedophiles? BAN DEM.

  13. Abuse of children Kamala back off please

  14. That’s right Brenda Gopeesingh, tell them! We are all behind you!

  15. Reasonable….I still say 18+ but I vmcan live with this approach

  16. Wish they gave an example as to circumstances where it is desirable for a person between 16 and 18 to marry.

  17. I thought this argument had ended. The question of child marriage in Trinidad and Tobago has been answered. If you are not old enough to vote you are not old enough to marry. Have you noticed that men are still viewing women as property? Men will determine at what age they can marry a girl and call her woman. The younger she is the more likely it is that she will be malleable and let him dictate what she must like and dislike, do and not do, give in to his demands and above all else ‘be a god wife’. Where did this man come from?

    • It’s disconcerting to me that this conversation is taking place in T&T , led by old men who head religious bodies while their wives and mothers and other women are silent. is this legal rape, paeodophile behaviour, are we barbarians?

  18. 4 ladies with no followings sitting and making pronoucement calling themselves organizesation

  19. my sentiments exactly people whom you thought had ethics, have sold them selve for afew pence , shame , sahme . the love of money is evil

  20. I was wondering where the voices of all the women’s groups in T&T.thisnis the time they should be outside Parliamen lobbying, just playing games

  21. The UNC is the child f#@ker party.
    Talk done!

  22. Why would an educator give up his self respect at the altar of politics and end up on the wrong side of History in this discussion. Now I lost every or any bit of respect I once had for him. I’m sure he would not have subjected his daughters to such a fate. I hope he can sleep at nights

  23. Unfortunately Sat doesn’t hold that view

  24. Provisions made only for a girl between the ages of 16-18?

  25. Note despite what women’s organisation says Sat said he will take gov’t to Court if they go ahead and change it, if I remember story correctly.

  26. The Muslim cleric’s position actually was not even in line with what I read the opposition leader and opposition position was. Maybe she just gave the religious bodies an opportunity to be heard, to get feedback. But most Muslims and Hindus from what I read are not in agreement with leaving law as is.