Human Services Ministry to probe child marriages
January 20, 2007
Officials of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security will soon launch an investigation into the recent reports of child marriages.
According to a press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) this decision came as a result of a recent report reaching the ministry of a 13-year-old girl being wedded to a 23-year-old man in Essequibo, Region Two.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Trevor Thomas said that an investigation will be launched in conformity with the laws of Guyana taking into consideration the ministry's responsibility for children's welfare.
He added that the issue had identified a clear case of culture colliding with the law.
According to the release, Thomas said he suspected that if these persons are getting married by religious rites, persons in authority such as marriage officers were carrying out the functions.
Thomas explained that the ministry will operate within the laws and this would require the appropriate actions to be taken.
According to him, the ministry will seriously examine the situation since a 13-year-old was still a child and the laws of Guyana do not allow children to get married.
"Clearly what we are seeing here is a cultural practice which appears to be in conflict with the law, the fact that a 13-year-old can go to her church or a religious organisation and in the eyes of that religion it can be legitimate. It means that to some extent the religious body approves of that union. Our concern is that such unions conflict with the law," Thomas said.
The Human Services Ministry has over the years collaborated with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on the formation, implementation and execution of several programmes for the protection of Guyana's children.