Trinidad sets new legal age for marriage

The Trinidad and Tobago government has passed legislation to make 18 years the new legal age of marriage— ending decades of child marriages.

The bill, which was passed in the Senate last week, will now go to the Lower House for final approval.

In piloting the bill entitled, “An Act to amend the Marriage Act, the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, the Orisa Marriage Act, and the Matrimonial Proceedings Act,” Attorney General Faris-al-Rawi revealed that Trinidad and Tobago has recorded more than 3,000 child brides in the last two decades.

He produced updated statistics from the Registrar General for the period 1996 to 2016, which showed there were 3,478 child marriages during that period and of these figure, a mere 74 were males under the age of 18.

The attorney general said there were 1,156 Christian or non-Christian marriages, 526 Muslim and 1,796 Hindu marriages.

This, he said, means there was a total of 3,404 child brides in the past decades with an average of 170 young girls being married off every year.

He said and their grooms and 11-year-olds up to 16-year-olds were married off to men in the age bracket of close to 36, 46 and 52 years of age.

In terms of live birth figures taken from public hospitals, for the period 1999 to 2015, there were 15,231 births to children, Al-Rawi said.

In the period 2011 and 2015, he said the total number of teenage abortions recorded in the public health sector was 743 and these included abortions for girls in the 13 to 16 age bracket.

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