The move to reduce the legal age for marriage of women in any community should be opposed by all means, Tamil poet Salma said on Tuesday. Inaugurating the activities of the Women’s Studies Cell at the Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College for this year here, the writer, who described herself as a victim of early and forced marriage, said women should first be empowered through education and they should be given the freedom to make own decisions.

Talking about different kinds of discriminations and marginalisation meted out to women in different parts of the world, Ms. Salma said that any attempt to reduce the marriage age of women from the present limit of 18 should be countered effectively. “It cannot be tolerated,” she said.

Disapproving the existing difference in the marriage age for men and women in the country (18 for women and 21 for men), she said no such discrimination should be allowed in a democracy.

Speaking about her experience as a girl child in a conservative Muslim family where she struggled hard to become a writer, Ms. Salma bemoaned the fact that women even today were denied a space for themselves in society.

A documentary titled Salma , based on the poet’s life and directed by British documentary film-maker Kim Longinotto, was screened on the campus as part of the programme. The director is known for making films highlighting the plight of female victims of oppression or discrimination.

The rapt attention her documentary received on the campus proved that she had an inspiring story to tell the world, said Rajani Balakrishnan, convenor of the Women’s Study Centre.

An interaction between the students and the writer was also organised.

Rathi Thampatti, Principal of the college, presided over the function.

Tamil poet describes herself as a victim of early and forced marriage.