Last year in a small village in southern Trinidad, my Nani (the Hindi word for maternal grandmother) – who was a child bride herself at the age of 16 –was able to witness a huge victory for all girls in her country in protecting their childhood from a similar fate. After years of civil society organizations’ campaigns for a change in the law, the movement against child marriage finally bore fruit. On September 29th, Trinidad and Tobago celebrated the one-year anniversary of this critical legal victory achieved with the Proclamation of the Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Act No. 8.
In Trinidad and Tobago, child marriage was previously allowed based on parental consent or judicial authorization under the Marriage Act Chapter 45:01 along with other applicable religious laws. The main legal framework was set in place during the early 20th Century, in an era when many parents saw it unnecessary to send their girls to school. That was the case with my Nani; after being married to start a family at such a young age, she abandoned her education and suffered five miscarriages resulting from early pregnancies.