Published On: Mon, Jan 23rd, 2017

With one more vote, Trinidad and Tobago could ban child marriage

child-marriagePORT OF SPAIN - Child marriage will likely soon be illegal in Trinidad and Tobago. The Miscellaneous Provisions Marriage Bill, which Trinidad and Tobago's attorney general presented in the country's senate nearly ten days ago, has passed -- even with four opposition senators (including a woman) and one independent choosing to abstain. All that remains, as the bill proceeds to the House of Representatives, is the support of a simple majority to make it into law.

However, Sat Maharaj, the secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, the country's most high-profile Hindu organization, has threatened legal action, should the amendments to the Marriage Act be passed.

The lone woman who abstained from the senate vote, Khadijah Ameen, maintained that religious perspectives that were expressed in parliament “through two temporary appointments in a representative of the Muslim faith and a representative of the Hindu faith” had merit, saying, “Those views have been criticized but they are real, they are part of our multicultural society and we must give an air to those views.”

Many netizens feel that the issue is much wider than marriage alone. Facebook user Skye Hernandez mused: “People, don't think it's only those who are still advocating to keep child marriage on the books that have a problem, eh. Walk in town with a 10-year-old girl and notice how big men look at her. It is disgusting and terrifying. The whole ‘after 12 is lunch’ culture is not only upheld by outdated religious ‘laws’ and their advocates. It's everywhere in this society -- open season on women and girls.”

“After 12 is lunch” is an idiom meaning that once a girl is older than 12, she is no longer off limits sexually.

Everyone seemed to be getting involved in the online discussion of this issue, including former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, whose Facebook remarks on “all the ole talk swirling around” struck the wrong chord with some netizens:

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