At age fifteen, the issue of marriage seems like a distant concept, however, for sophomore Anika Sridhar and the thousands of young children in Massachusetts married each year, this issue requires current political action.
Sridhar recently became aware that with parental and judge consent there is no minimum legal age of marriage in Massachusetts. After numerous conversations with Newton City Councillor, Emily Norton, Sridhar concluded a bill needed to be passed to raise the legal age of marriage.
Sridhar’s ultimate goal remains to raise the minimum legal age of marriage to 18, however this dream appears unrealistic as most states minimum age is 16, thus Sridhar will be pleased with a 16 year minimum age.
To accomplish this goal, Sridhar has started a petition to raise awareness around the issue. Though petitions cannot physically get “approved”, Sridhar hopes to gain legislators’ attention, so they realize minimum marriage age is a pertinent issue.
If the legislators take interest in this issue, Sridhar will likely testify at the State House and present her case regarding the minimum age in a court.
Sridhar doesn’t have any firsthand experience with victims of youth marriage; however, several relatives, who were married at a young age, warned her of the dramatic impacts it had. Therefore, Sridhar cares deeply and remains connected to this issue.
“Kids who are married as children are often forced into labor at very young ages and are unable to complete their education, which is truly heartbreaking because I believe that education is a human right that everyone deserves to have,” Sridhar said.
Sridhar’s involvement at South demonstrates her tremendous value of education as guidance counselor, Christopher Hardiman, expresses his impressment with Sridhar’s involvement in the school. Hardiman adds that while some students partake in extracurriculars merely “to pad their resumé, trying to impress colleges”, Sridhar is not one of those students.
Hardiman says that colleges are more concerned with the quality and dedication in one’s extracurriculars, rather than the amount of extracurriculars. Sridhar is meeting both quality and quantity in her extracurriculars, in addition to her political work, as she participates on debate team and Newtones.
Sophomore Gaby Lewis, who is also on the debate team, says how she admires Sridhar’s pragmatism and active political stance.
“Anika’s very level headed, so she’s good about not being stressed and organizing her time to fit in her extra political endeavors,” Lewis said.
Sridhar’s involvement in her school and community remains admirable, and her determination is a strong asset. Hardiman describes her as “an awesome young woman with great intellectual and personal strengths and qualities.”
Corroborating Hardiman’s view on Sridhar’s character, Lewis adds that “I do know that Anika is definitely one to voice her opinion in class, so I’m sure at some point her ideas and political action were shared in a class.”
Both Hardiman and Lewis stress that Sridhar succeeds with her political goals and other extracurricular activities due to her own passion and motivation.
Sridhar concludes by re-emphasizing the core reason behind her petition, the citizens whose childhoods end too abruptly and therefore, get constantly taken advantage of throughout their lives.
“They often have children at very young ages and thus have their priorities shifted. Doing this has negative physiological effects as well, because as they get older, people begin to feel regretful that their childhoods were not maximized. This is definitely the biggest project I have taken on,” said Sridhar.
A link to Sridhar’s petition is provided below.