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UNC Senator calls on Al-Rawi to revisit Children’s Act
Temporary Opposition Senator Dr Waffie Mohammed yesterday shot down Attorney General Faris Al-Rawis’ proposal to have the minimum age of Muslims marriages adjusted from 12 to 18, stating that the country was faced with a breakdown of moral and spiritual degradation which Islam does not support.
Mohammed said amendments to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Bill 2016 which Al-Rawi had proposed would be oppressive.
Delivering his maiden contribution in the Senate, Mohammed questioned how the change in the age of marriage would impact on the immoral things that society has been experiencing.
“I hope he can give an explanation to that,” Mohammed said, minutes after Al-Rawi piloted the bill.
Stating that Islam was a complete way of life, Mohammed said for centuries the lifestyle of Muslims have not changed.
“So, Muslims believe that the marriageable age of a female begins at puberty. That is what the Holy Quran says. As such, it is not an offence as girls are allowed to be married after attaining that age.”
Mohammed said the age of puberty will vary in climatic conditions.
Clause 27 (b) 1 of the bill states that a person who wiilfully and knowingly sodomises the marriage of a person who is under age 18 commits an offense and is liable on conviction and indictment to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment of seven years.
As chairman of the Council of Islamic Scholars, Mohammed placed his support for the T&T’s Muslim marriage and divorce ordinance Chapter 45 verse 2.
The ordinance noted that there are two phases in a Muslim marriage— the contract and consummation.
“While Nikah (contract) can be done at any time …during the infancy, the marriage can only be consummated after the individual has attained puberty. This is taken from a letter sent to the honourable Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on August 23, 2016. This amendment appears to be oppressive towards to Muslims….$50,000 and seven years prison. The fine plus the time in prison it appears to be oppressive. It has also not defined which aspect of the marriage is considered to be the offence. Is it the Nikah or the consummation?”
The Islamic Social and Cultural Association, in a letter in 2013 sent to the Minister of Gender Youth and Child Development, stated that changing the laws of T&T regarding the age of marriage will not protect our youths from serious ill of society “such as illicit sexual activity, unplanned pregnancies, STDs, incest and others.”
The association, Mohammed said, held the view that changing the age of marriage was not a solution.
Mohammed said while the AG was desirous of restricting young people from getting married until the age of 18, hoping that such intentions will change society’s ills “he is not doing anything to solve the problem of unrestricted sexual activity among our youth. What is being done?”
Mohammed suggested that the AG revisit the Children’s Act of 2012 to help the youth from straying away from the right path.
In that act, Mohammed said boys as young as 12 can lawfully have sex with girls of ten years once both parties consented.
“The clause permits it. And here you talking about restrictions for 18 years because of this and that.”
As a result of this, Mohammed said the country was faced with so much problems and immovable behaviour in secondary schools.
“As a matter of fact it is becoming uncontrollable. What is the Attorney General doing about that?”
“In the schools and colleges all over the country...If we should go out and hear what is going on outside there. Oh my God! it is pitiable. Young children how they are being dragged into moral and spiritual degradation. And they believe that what they are doing is good.”
Mohammed said Islam strongly condemns any form of sexual activity outside of marriage.