N Touch
Saturday 17 August 2019
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Child bride says: ‘I’m a married woman’

The 13-year-old Venezuelan girl who was married to a 24-year-old Trinidadian man under Warao tribal rites and secretly brought to this country is refusing to co-operate with Child Protection Unit police.

The teenager, who is being kept at a safe house in St Joseph which is under the supervision of the Children’s Authority, is refusing to give the name of the man who married her and his whereabouts.

The teenager is insisting she is a married woman and is eager to be reunited with her husband. However, chairman of the Children’s Authority, Hanif Benjamin, yesterday said she is a child, and in accordance with the law her rights must be protected. He said the Children’s Authority has been involved in the matter since it was discovered, and is still providing care and protection for the teenager.

The girl was interviewed over the Easter weekend through an interpreter, but shared very little information except a few details about her marriage and how she was brought from Venezuela to Trinidad and taken to an apartment at Rock Road, Penal. She also told police she had the full consent of her parents to her marriage and if she is returned to them she will be considered an outcast.

Child Protection police said yesterday she cannot be taken for a medical examination unless she gives consent. They said the Children’s Authority will have to work alongside immigration officers to determine how to handle the issue. A decision will have to be taken on the girl’s future, but police said yesterday everything will be done in the interest of the rescued teenager.

Last Wednesday, police led by Sgt Ablacksingh of the South Western Division went to a house in Penal where they found the teenager in an apartment.

The Counter-Trafficking Unit was informed and investigated how the teenager entered the country.

There were no travel documents to suggest that she arrived legally, and police later learnt she was brought here in a pirogue.

The pirogue docked at Morne Diablo, close to Moruga, and the man who married the girl took her to an apartment where she was given food and allowed to bathe.

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