The Punjab and Haryana High Court refused to protect a young unmarried couple as they were in a “morally and socially unacceptable” live-in relationship. It’s the 21st century and live-in relationships are still unacceptable? Why?
The couple, Gulza Kumari and Gurwinder Singh had filed a petition which stated that they are currently residing together. They also made it clear that they plan to get married shortly. The couple had to run away from their families because the girl’s parents were not ready to accept their relationship.
Due to certain documents such as Aadhar card, still being is possession of the girl’s parents, they were unable to tie the knot. But the couple received no cooperation from the authorities because according to the High Court, if a couple in a live-in relationship is granted protection, “the social fabric of the society would get disturbed”.
Live-in relationships are a taboo but violence is not?
India ranks ninth in the list of the most unsafe countries for women. However, according to the gender-inequality index, India ranks first. About 45 per cent of the women surveyed confirmed that their partners are given the right to hit them under certain circumstances. The reason I’m stating this is, we justify violence against women and make zero attempts to pass and implement laws to protect them. But when we see them making a choice for themselves, we are reminded of our ‘morality’.
Where does our sense of the ‘the social fabric’ go when minor girls are forced into marriages? What happens to our ‘morals’ when a woman is raped every other day in our country? Do we make any move to have a woman’s abusive partner arrested when we see him ruthlessly beating his wife on the streets? No, we take out our smartphones and “record” it.
Recently, a man stabbed his wife to death in Delhi because he was unhappy with her being a working woman and suspected her of having an extramarital affair. People around him just silently watched without batting an eyelid. Someone went an extra mile by deciding to record the violent act and uploading it on social media. When we can accept everything regressive around us, why not live-in relationships?
A live-in relationship is just a way to help us know our partners better. Before a couple seals their relationship in a life-long commitment such as marriage, it’s only fair that they spend some time under the same roof. This helps them make an informed decision and not a hasty one. Divorce rates will automatically see a dip if couples are given enough space to understand their compatibility.
Normalise live-in relationships
In India, there are thousands of couples living together without being “legally married”. Studies reveal that about 80 per cent of our country’s youth supports the idea of live-in relationships. On an honest note, live-in relationships are not ‘filthy’ as society labels them.
What’s filthy is a man forcing himself on his partner and his disregard for consent. Parents don’t find it shameful to get their daughters married to absolute strangers. But raise an eyebrow when their children make a choice for themselves.
The society and the judiciary need to understand that staying with a partner without marriage won’t do any harm to the societal construct. On the other hand, if we push women into relationships they are not ready for, it can affect them and their families in more ways than one. Moreover, walking out of a toxic relationship is easier than walking out of a toxic marriage. For a moment, let’s forget what patriarchy has taught us and support our children in their life decisions. Maybe, this can bring about a change, even if it’s a small one.