Senator: Marriage too much for children
PORT OF SPAIN – Government Senator Nadine Stuart said she got married at 30 years old on New Year’s Day and she was finding it difficult to adjust to married life.
She said she could not see how people could expect a 12-, 13-, 14- or 15-year-old to assume the obligations and responsibilities she has had to assume.
“This is insane,” she said, saying that someone under 18 years would not be prepared.
She was speaking in the Senate in the Marriage Amendment Bill.
Stuart said one of her memories of being 12 years were this: “I would line up my dolls and I would stand in front of them and play teacher.”
Another childhood memory was of “running around the village with all the other children and falling down and getting bobos on my knees and elbows”.
“Those are the experiences a 12- and 13- year-old should be having, not walking down the aisle,” she added.
Stuart said this was not a cultural issue, or a class issue, or a racial issue or a religious issue. “It is a child rights issue,” she said.
She said the concern for the welfare of the child transcended any religious beliefs or practices.
Stuart said the marriage of under-age children was a form of gender-based violence.
She noted under-age children were most likely to be victims of domestic violence.
She said the Journal of Paediatrics found girls who marry before 18 years were more likely to have mental health problems, anxiety, bipolar disorders and more likely to become dependent on alcohol and drugs.
She said UNICEF found Latin America and the Caribbean were the only regions where child marriages were not on the decline.
She said in the Caribbean Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana were highlighted as the two areas where there were more child brides.
She said while in many societies the absence of universal and free education had fostered the growth of child marriages, Trinidad and Tobago, which had free education, up to the tertiary level, had no such excuse for allowing this practice (of under-age marriages).
Stuart said marriage required responsibility, commitment and resources and should only be entered into where the two people were mature enough to embark on that journey. (Express)