Parents’ Stamp in Love Knots: Gujarat MLA's Demands Promote Misogyny, Social Rot

The correlation made between consensual marriages sans parental say and increased crime rates is absurd at best.

4 min read
Hindi Female

Collective cries of MLAs from seemingly rival parties BJP and Congress could be heard in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly to push forward the mandate to make the signature of parents obligatory for the registration of ‘love marriages’ and that the document be recorded in the same taluka where the couple would live.

Arguing passionately for the same, the BJP MLA from Kaalol, Fatehsinh Chauhan said, “Marriages solemnised without the consent of parents add to the crime rate in the state and if such marriages are registered with the consent of parents, the crime rate would come down by 50 percent."

The correlation made here between consensual marriages and the crime rate is absurd at best and funny at least. Moreover, the fact stated can be questioned on multiple levels and so can the very rational thinking capacities behind it but let us see some facts and real-life instances we have at our disposal concerning crimes against women done under marriages "done by consent of parents” which are usually called "arranged marriages".

Women in India Continue To Reel Under Institutional Bondage

According to the 2018 Lancet report, married women account for the highest proportion of suicide deaths among women in India because of reasons like an early arranged marriage, young motherhood, low social status, domestic violence, and economic dependence. Another NCRB 2018 data confirms that close to 20 dowry deaths, 35 cases of dowry, and 283 cases of cruelty towards the wife by the husband or his relatives are reported every day in India. So whose consent are we really talking about?

Adding to it, Congress MLA from Vav, Geni Thakore argued, “We are not against love marriage but we want the change to ensure that no boys who do not get girls for marriage or have criminal backgrounds get to lure and marry them as this leads to harassment of the girl who has to suffer in the end."

Suffer at the end? We are suffering already. And this adds to the burn! That apart, when will we stop appropriating women as cultural objects in desperate need for protection and guidance? When will we stop considering women as little kids when the matter concerns major life decisions and as a superwoman with unreasonable magical powers when it comes to the dissemination of the (un)holy triad of Parampara – Pratishtha – Anushasan?

What also sounds absurd is the claim made by Gujarat MLAs that their opposition is not directed towards love marriages per se, but against the ‘crimes’ they eventually give rise to. It is not unknown that majority of the crimes committed against marriages of choice whether inter-caste or inter-faith are done by the parents, family members, and relatives of the men and women involved.

In such a situation, introducing a provision that makes consent of parents a pre-requisite to solemnise choice-based marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and Special Marriage Act (SMA), would not only discourage such steps and put the lives of those undertaking them into danger but also make a joke out of such statutes themselves which guarantee that adult men and women are free to choose their partners on their own without any external socio-political interference.

The Idea of Parental Consent in Marriages of Choice Compromises Women’s Autonomy

The existing legal and administrative mechanisms for solemnising marriages both under the HMA & SMA are already unfavourable and hostile towards ‘love marriages’ owing to the conservative forces firmly rooted in their Brahmanical-majoritarian attitudes, and holding onto the social norms which idealise control over women’s sexuality.

From marriage registrars to police and law courts, men and women who want to marry out of their own free will, are harassed and have a really hard time navigating through the nitty-gritty of legal-administrative procedures of getting their marriages registered. Added to that, in multiple cases of (dis)honour killings all across the country, the police failed to protect the couples despite their repeated requests for the same.

The basic prejudice directing the demands on part of Gujarat MLAs is the deeply rooted social understanding of women as being ‘irrational’, ‘naïve’, and ‘emotional’ having no capacity to reason and make meaningful choices for their lives, who could easily be trapped by men of specific ‘communities’.

This not only designates women as a repository of ‘honour’ but also labels men of certain caste and religious groups as professional offenders who ‘lure’ women of privilege, specifically for sexual pleasure and challenge the authority of their male guardians.

Earlier also, when the Patidar community from the same state raised the demand for making parents’ consent essential for undertaking any marriage, it was founded on the baseless rhetoric of ‘love jihad’.

In such a sensitive socio-political context, the demands raised by Gujarat MLAs must be read as an extension of the power that the state is obsessively trying to institutionalise into the intimate lives of its citizens.


While the institution of marriage is inherently political, it is simultaneously intimate in the sense that the choice of partners entering such an institution, must be based on individual liking, love and understanding for the other and not be made under socio-cultural and other external constraints.

Such an intrusion of the state in regulating the lives of individuals in every matter possible is extremely problematic and sets dangerous precedents for regimes to follow, especially in such sensitive cases where deeply held caste and religious divisions have already destabilised the existing socio-political realities. If any serious attention is paid to these demands, it will be a recipe for complete disaster the brunt of which will have to be faced by those who dared to love and choose.

(Khushbu Sharma is Research Scholar at Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Anjali Chauhan is Research Scholar at Department of Political Science, University of Delhi. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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