Love or Arranged – Let it be their choice!
India could be considered as the heartland of arranged marriages-a symbolic representation of what an agreement between two families looks like. The basis of an arranged marriage is not the choice of the bride and groom; rather, it is dependent on class, caste, religion, social status, and other parameters which families of the couple try to match.
The cultural connotations attached to marriage underlines the union of two families. The rigid systematic suppression does not allow the youth to decide for themselves and the ones who try to do so are often disregarded within their communities. In extreme cases, practices like honor killing are still prevalent in the country which leads to men and women losing their lives for simply practicing their right to freedom.
The Indian constitution via Articles 19-22 protects an individual’s right to freedom. The articles provide the citizens- freedom of speech, expression and making their own decisions. In multiple instances, the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India have emphasized that the right to choose a partner is a fundamental right. In Lata Singh v. the State of U.P. (2006), the Supreme Court held that violence against inter-caste marriages is disturbing, wholly illegal and stated that protection from the local police is essential in such cases.
While the constitution protects the right to freedom, there is a gap when it comes to its implementation in reality. The cases of harassment are still evidently prevalent.
Another main issue contributing to the backlash is the fact that youth are not considered ‘responsible’ enough to make decisions of their own. The decisions made by the youth are not regarded as mature enough and hence their choices are not given importance. This mindset stems from cultural norms and restricts many young citizens access to their basic rights, and hence should be questioned.
Samvada advocates that the right to choose a partner should be treated as an important right for the youth in India. There is a need to protect new families from violent acts like honor killings and provide safe spaces for these youth and their new families to be able to live without any fear.
While strict laws could prevent people from interfering with one’s right to choose a life partner, it is important to sensitize people about this right. The youth should be aware of the legal channels available to them in order to seek help and protection in case of threats and violence for choosing a life partner. Lastly, there is an essential need to bring in emotional and psychological support for the victims or those who have been through violence and threats.
In nutshell, to be able to choose a life partner is an important part of freedom of choice. Cultural expectations and societal pressures impact decisions taken by the youth. Violence against those who step out of the cultural norms can be terrifying at this age, as many young people are only just beginning to figure out life. There is an urgent need to recognize the right to freedom of youth as a whole.
I feed my brain with wise words and my heart with poetry. I practice the art of expression through words.
I am a budding development practitioner, actively developing the skill of looking for the good in the world.