Reema: My granny was a child bride

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IN expressing support for the legislative amendment to the Child Marriage Act, Reema Carmona, wife of President Anthony Carmona, told the story of how her grandmother became a child bride at age 13 and was unable to realise her dream of becoming a teacher.
Carmona said her grandmother never got the chance to realise her ambition to be that teacher, while her husband fulfilled his personal ambition. That should never happen again to another 13-year-old, she said.
“My loving grandmother would have been a great teacher. Her husband fulfilled his personal ambition, she did not. She was forced to stifle her dreams and was unable to truly fulfil her personal aspirations because of her Child Marriage. I do not want this to ever happen again to an innocent child of 13 years. We must do what is right and what is fair to the innocent child. As adults, we live in boundless hope. Why can’t we allow a 12 year old to do likewise? The human spirit needs to have that capacity to evolve and grow and Parliamentarians by their guidance through affirmative legislative action, can so help,” she said.
Carmona said she agreed that child marriages should be a feature of the past.
“The desire through advocacy to correct the wrongs of the past by way of necessary legislative amendment in the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a just, compassionate and honourable fight,” she said.
Carmona said tittle girls must be afforded the opportunity to grow, flourish, prosper and to realise their full potential with unstinting guidance and support from parents and the society.
She said they must be nurtured into educated, healthy and happy human beings. Child Marriage is an anachronism that bears no relevance to a progressive holistic society, she said.
“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear in creating internationally accepted and agreed upon benchmark practices as to how we ought to treat and empower a child. The legal age for marriage ought to be changed to the international benchmark age of 18 so as to allow girls to live healthy, fulfilling lives with the requisite educational and professional opportunities,” she said.
Carmona said the roles of wife and eventually mother should be actualised by individuals who are mature enough to take on such responsibility.
She said a girl should be provided with the same opportunities as boys to go to school and pursue a career and excel in whatever field she desires. As such, in Trinidad and Tobago, appropriate legislation must be put in place and enforced to ensure that innocent children are always protected.
“Children are expected to have defining, euphoric childhood memories, to be carefree and to enjoy the simple things in life through the culture of play with other children, enjoying primary and secondary school days, unfettered. We must ensure that all girls throughout the globe are afforded similar opportunities and rights as they grow and develop to become strong, passionate, qualified and inspirational women and impacting leaders of the world,” she said.

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