Strange And Disturbing Laws In Trinidad & Tobago

As many of you might know I live and work in Trinidad & Tobago which is a strange mishmash of  Victorian laws and modernity.  Ignoring the Sexual Offenses Act which might be problematic for me  were I not given only 3 months in the country on my last entry :

13. (1) Aperson who commits buggery is guilty of an offence
and is liable on conviction to imprisonment—
(a) if committed by an adult on a minor, for life;
(b) if committed by an adult on another adult, for
twenty-five years;
(c) if committed by a minor, for five years.
(2) In this section “buggery” means sexual intercourse
per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person
with a female person


(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act of serious
indecency committed in private between—
(a) a husband and his wife; or
(b) a male person and a female person each of whom
is sixteen years of age or more, both of whom
consent to the commission of the act.
(3) An act of “serious indecency” is an act, other than
sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural), by a person
involving the use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing
or gratifying sexual desire.

Nope, no sexism, homophobia or overt  discrimination there. Actually, given my life of late it probably wouldn’t affect me but still.

What else is said you ask? Let me check… Oh wait there are laws that were introduced to placate religious groups. Like India …Oh wait…India is secular…what has T&T done?

There is a Muslim  marriage act. That allows…wait..what? A 12 year old girl to be married?  Seriously?

Yup:

8. The age at which a person, being a member of the Muslim
community, is capable of contracting marriage shall be sixteen in
the case of males and twelve in the case of females
However, in the case of an intended marriage between persons
either of whom is under eighteen years of age (not being a widower
or widow), the consent to the marriage, of the father if living or if
the father is dead of the guardian or guardians lawfully appointed
or of one of them, and in case there is no such guardian then of the
mother of the person so under age, and if the mother is dead then
of such other person as may be appointed for the purpose by the
President,shall be certified in writing by the marriage officer before
whom the marriage is contracted upon the certificate ofthe marriage
to be issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

The law is here.

Hindus fought for another offensive marriage age. Not quite as awful but still impressively pervy and sexist .

11. (1) The age at which a person, being a member of the
Hindu faith or religion, is capable of contracting marriage shall be
eighteen years in the case of males and fourteen years in the case
of females.
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (1),
a marriage shall not be solemnised by a Marriage Officer if the
intended husband (not being a widower), is under eighteen years
of age or the intended wife (not being a widow) is under sixteen
years of age unless the consent to the marriage of the party who is
under age by virtue of thissubsection has been given in accordance
with the following provisions of this section, and the consent is
hereby required for the marriage of such party under age.
(3) The required consent may be given by the father of
the party under age, and if the father is dead by the guardian or
guardians appointed or one of them, and in case there is no such
guardian then by the mother of the party so under age, and if the
mother is dead then by such other person as may be appointed for
the purpose by the President.
(4) In case the father, mother, or a guardian whose consent
to a marriage is required under subsection (3) is absent from
Trinidad and Tobago or is unable or refuses to give the consent or
is not of sound mind, the party in whose case consent is required
may apply to the President to appoint a person, being a member of
the Hindu community, to investigate the circumstances of the
intended marriage and if after the investigation it appears to the
person so appointed that there are no reasonable objections to the
intended marriage such person shall so formally declare in writing
and the declaration shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed
equivalent to the consent as aforesaid.

Yes, T&T can’t deal with LGBT rights but it is so on the ball for child marriage rights.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Strange And Disturbing Laws In Trinidad & Tobago”

  1. Bizarre and disturbing, as you say.

    Is there not a higher court (I suppose not, since T & T is a sovereign nation) that could dispute the sexist and decidedly child-*unfriendly* laws? In fact, allowing a 12 or 14 year old girl to marry is child abuse, IMHO.

    And the old ‘buggery’ laws are just plain ridiculous. I know you’ve quoted Pierre Trudeau before, but it bears repeating: “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” (1967, presenting his Omnibus Bill to Canadian parliament when he was Justice Minister.) Video: http://archives.cbc.ca/politics/rights_freedoms/topics/538/

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: