CMC – Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on Wednesday revealed that there have been over three thousand child marriages in the last 20 years in the twin island republic.
Al-Wari, made the disclosure in Senate as he piloted the Miscellaneous Provisions Marriage Bill 2016 – that seeks raise the age of marriage to 18, as recommended by the United Nations..
The bill also seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act of 1945, the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act of 1961 and the Orisha Marriage Act of 1999.
The Attorney General said that between 1996 and 2016, the Registrar General recorded 3,478 child marriages, with marriage certificates showing that some of them were girls as young as 11 and 12 who were married to men as old as 36, 42 and 56.
“We have a phenomenon where the law, as it exists in Trinidad and Tobago, permits somebody who is more than two or three times the age of the child, of the girl, to be married to a man two and three times her age,” he said, adding these facts were taken from marriage certificates.
He dismissed the argument that child marriages take place in rural areas – stating that greatest number of these marriages come from urban areas.
Al-Wari also referred to the Hindu, Muslim and Orisha marriage acts which allow marriages from the ages of 14, 12 and 16 respectively in the case of girls.
The Bill proposes to criminalise the marriage of people under 18 by a marriage officer, who would be fined TT$50,000 and jailed for seven years for the offence.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of only eight countries in the world where someone can be married as early as age 12.