There is a critical need for the age of marriage to be aligned to the age of consent for sexual conduct. This is the view extended in a public statement by the Office of the Prime Minister this afternoon.
A media statement issued amid growing concern over what has been widely frowned upon in recent weeks, reveals that the four marriage statutes currently permit marriage at ages which are in conflict with the age of consent to sexual activity as reflected in the Children’s Act of 2012.
The four statutes presently sees an allowance for 12 year old, 14 year old and 16 year old girls to be joined in matrimony under Hiindu, Muslim and Orisa religious rights.
The media statement however notes that the child protection goals embodied in the Children’s Act, 2012 indicate that children under 18 cannot consent to penetrative sexual conduct. This, the statement notes is a reflection of our society’s collective will to safeguard and protect our children.
The Prime Minister’s Office says the gap between the age for marriage and the age of consent to penetrative sexual conduct has increased since the proclamation of the Children’s Act, 2012 in May, 2015 and as such, must be harmonized.
It is further argued that early marriage can expose children to Decreased opportunity for education, serious health risk such as premature pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections since the child cannot abstain from sex or insist on condom use, high risk due to early pregnancy such as death during delivery, endangering the health of a young mother and her baby and increased likelihood of being subjected to gender-based violence.
Roman Catholic Archbishop, Joseph Harris, is making it clear that the Church is not in support of child marriages.
Recently the Inter-Religious Organization held discussion on the hot topic.
In an interview with the media today, Archbishop Harris explained that the Church was not able to send a representative to the IRO meeting.
However, he added that in spite of this the Roman Catholic Church is opposed to the development.
Roman Catholic Archbishop, Joseph Harris
In a News Power Now interview, IRO President, Harrypersad Maharaj, called for no interference with the law on this matter.
Inter-Religious Organisation President, Harrypersad Maharaj.