Age of consent laws are being challenged in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.
In Jamaica, Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison, is calling for the age of consent to be raised from 16 to 18, to protect minors from “predatory relationships”.
Gordon Harrison has been advocating for raising the age of consent since 2014, when she argued before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament, but the committee went dormant afterwards.
She has since renewed her fight after a recent sex scandal surfaced involving a 64-year-old pastor and a 15-year-old girl.
In light of the scandal and the recent spike in violence against women and children, Parliament has promised that the Joint Select Committee would be reconvened to consider laws such as the Offences Against the Person Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Child Care and Protection Act, and the Domestic Violence Act.
While in Trinidad & Tobago, the age of consent is sparking controversy after reports reveal more than 3000 child marriages have taken place in the country within the last 20 years.
Wednesday, T&T’s Attorney General Faris Al-Wari, revealed that marriage certificates between 1996 and 2016, were issued to men as old as 56 marrying girls as young as 11 and 12.
Referring to the Hindu, Muslim, and Orisha marriage acts – which allow adult men to marry girls ages 12, 14 and 16 respectively, Al-Wari, is working to instill the Miscellaneous Provisions Marriage Bill that would raise the consensual age of marriage to 18yrs.
The bill – that would criminalize marriage officers who allow the marriage of people under 18, was recommended by the United Nations last year after the practice of child marriage was exposed in the country.
Trinidad & Tobago is one of only 8 countries in the world where children can be married at such a young age.