Order of the Republic of T&T — For Distinguished & Outstanding Service to T&T
Wendell Mottley (Former Finance Minister/athlete) — National Development/Public Service
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has praised Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) secretary general Satnarayn Maharaj for his outspokenness on marriage, age and other issues affecting descendants of East Indian immigrants in T&T.
In the feature address at the Indian Diaspora Council closing event at Maha Sabha headquarters, St Augustine, on Sunday night, she condemned the “vicious and untruthful attacks” against Maharaj.
“His name will well be recorded in the annals of the history of Trinidad and Tobago as he who never faltered in defence of his faith, his community and his country,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said Maharaj had received unwarranted criticism for the Maha Sabha’s stance on the marriage of persons under the age of 18. She reminded the audience that the Muslim Marriage Act and the Hindu Marriage Act, which allow for marriages under the age of 18, came out of indentureship.
“So when you look at our laws there was a requirement under indentureship that marriages were to be registered in one year of the male attaining 16 years of age, or the female attaining 12 years of age, or within one year of the marriage if one of the parties had attained the previously mentioned ages.”
Commenting on the current debate about changing the age of marriage, Persad-Bissessar said 49 states in the United States allow for marriage under the age of 18 with parental or judicial consent.
Noting that 151 countries in the world allow the marriage of persons under 18, Persad-Bissessar said during the recent debate in the Senate, the Opposition allowed representatives of the Muslim and Hindu faiths to state their positions.
Persad-Bissessar said the Opposition agreed that 18 should be the age of consent.
“They will not say that. They continue to say Kamla is a beast, Sat Maharaj is a beast and—I am sorry to use this word to this distinguished organisation—some of you are paedophiles.
“That’s what they were saying. A different history, a different culture, 151 countries of the world, 49 states of the United States but no. Sat Maharaj is an evil man because he spoke out of the history, the culture and traditions.”
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