Right to choice of women


Context: The Uttar Pradesh government has cleared an ordinance that enables the state to police and punish inter-faith marriages with “the sole intention of changing a girl’s religion”.

Discuss the issues associated with the law against love jihad.

  • Law against fundamental rights: By clearing the ordinance, the state government has trespassed the fundamental right to marry guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Problem with this law: Neither clan council nor khap panchayat, and certainly not a democratic government, has the licence to vet personal choices as right or wrong.
  • “Love jihad” ordinance is being peddled as measures taken for the security and “respect” of women.
  • Law can be abused: Allowing the police to examine subjective “intentions” of men and women entering a marriage sets the law up for widespread abuse.
  • It legitimises a rank communal fantasy: It continues the pessimistic politics that seeks to organise Hindu unity by fuelling the anxieties about the ‘Muslim Other’ and treasures it in law.
  • Patriarchal fear: The law’s scrutiny is specially focussed on a woman’s change of faith reveals the patriarchal fear behind it.
  • An attempt to police women’s lives: The pretentiousness of protection, indeed, masks a fear of female sexuality that will not be contained by caste and clan barriers.
  • It is used to police women’s lives and choices, often by violence, as is evident in the history of “honour killings”.

Way forward

  • The government must withdraw the proposed law as in the eyes of law men and women are not only members of religions, but individuals with “free will and choice”.
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