THE State should not interfere with the Marriage Act of Trinidad and Tobago, which allows a child as young as 12 years old to marry.
This is according to leader of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), Brother Harrypersad Maharaj, who said age did not determine maturity.
In a statement, the women’s organisation said, “laws that permit the marriage of young girls with parental consent in cases where the male is several years her senior is in reality permitting statutory rape or child abuse. Such oppressive laws cannot be allowed to remain on the statute books.” But in an interview on the weekend, Maharaj referred to a newspaper article which stated that 74 girls under the age of 16, gave birth at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EW MSC) in Mt Hope last year .
“These (the Hindu Women Organisation) women should be concerned about that. All they want to do is follow what the foreign countries have done and try to build pressure on the Hindu, Muslim and Orisha communities,” Maharaj said .
Maharaj said the law allowing child marriages should remain on the statute books because it acts as a safety net. “If young people engage in sex and a child is on the way, you get them married under that law. So in that sense, it is there as a safety net,” he reasoned .
Head of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Harrypersad Maharaj, said the IRO met on Monday last and unanimously agreed that no government or law should interfere with child marriages .
He said they have found it has been one of the best things to guide society in terms of moral and spiritual values as it relates to family life .
“There is no benefit in saying people should marry at an older age .
In today’s cases, they are making their own choices but we are having more divorces than marriage. It is not good for the society in terms of the family life. There is no justification even in terms of social issues, that it is going to be any benefit to society,” Bro Maharaj said .