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Monday, December 27, 2021


by Harsimran Kaur

Several women’s organisations across [India] have opposed the government’s move to increase the age of marriage of girls from 18 to 21 years, which has been ironically touted as a measure of women’s empowerment. … Similarly, ‘Young Voices: National Working Group’ formed in response to the task force, comprising 96 civil society organisations, in its report published on July 25, 2020, had also opposed this move. The report brought out after surveying about 2,500 adolescents across 15 states stated, “…Increasing the age of marriage will either harm or have no impact by itself unless the root causes of women’s disempowerment are addressed.” —Flavia Agnes, “Increasing Marriage Age for Girls May Only Strengthen Patriarchy,” The Times of India, December 19, 2021

my friend got married at seventeen
singing the hymns her mother sang some
twenty-five years ago

on a cold day in January
her henna – impolite
her body wrapped in Red
her tiny legs blurting out of her salwar:

“maybe it’s too soon.” i don’t know
her forehead smeared in red
eyes black, cajoled
driven out of existence.

all i know is that she is my friend
who loves Jell-O, baked cookies & comfy blankets
i don’t know who taught her marriage
i didn’t know a red bindi on her forehead before

& seven pairs of bangles made from glass
hanging loose from her wrists
two for one.
brought from the corner shop with no name

i didn’t know red grew in a land that
burns, buys, believes, blue
& meanders our lives 
like the Ganges

Harsimran Kaur is a seventeen-year-old author of three books. Her work has been recognised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, Oxford University Press, and the International Human Rights Art Festival. She is currently a senior in high school in India.