LOVE JIHAD: VICTIMIZATION OF WOMEN THROUGH MEDIA
“Love Jihad” is interfaith marriage depicting something else. It is an Islamophobic conspiracy theory. This theory claims that Muslim men attracts women (mostly Hindu women) to marry them and convert their religion into Islam.
This word first came in 1927 with a piece of information that a girl from Muzaffarnagar, UP had been forced by a Muslim man to convert her religion into Islam to marry him. Crowd started gathering and marching to secure justice. But lastly it turned out that the girl was Muslim since birth. It again gained attention in 2009, when Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Shri Ram Sena claimed that women from Kerala were being converted into Islam by the motive to get married to Muslim man. According to Kerala high court judgement no solid proof was there to indicate that an organization named “love jihad” is working in the state.
Now, love marriages that are inter religious (mostly between Hindu girl and Muslim boy) are depicted as love jihad. For media, the main objective to show this news is to acquire TRP (for them a crap is a great news while a great news is never a news at all). According to Mahatma Gandhi, ‘The true function of journalism is to educate the public mind, not to stock it with wanted and unwanted impressions. ‘A pair made in paradise and concluded on earth. The term Love Jihad reached common public through local news channels in the year 2009 in southern state.
Karnataka: A Hindu girl wanted to marry a Muslim boy, but her father filed complaint that his daughter is a target of love jihad. Karnataka High Court said that there is no evidence of love jihad, permitted her to decide on her future by herself and asked the agencies to carry out an investigation against cases related to love jihad. Criminal Investigation Department and Director General of Karnataka state investigated and found that the case (popularly known as Shilja’s case) had no evidence related to love jihad, she (Shilja) alone decided to go away with Ashkar. Organisation better known as Popular Front of India found no particular case of reformed women practiced for any anti- religion activity.
Kerala: During Jan 2012, Director General of Kerala verified that there is no confirmation regarding function of Love Jihad in the state. Rather he asked to take action against website hindujagruti.org for circulating religious enmity and wrong information.
Special Marriage Act, 1984:
It applies in inter-caste and inter-religion marriages. It is to administer particular form of marriage in specified cases (Hindu, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians or Jews can do marriage under this act). In this act a certain time period is given to the parties filing for marriage, where at least one of the parties need to reside for a period of 30 days (where they filed for marriage). During this time period, their details (name, address, mobile number) are disclosed to common public and anyone can oppose their marriage. If no one objects, then only they can perform their marriage before a declared marriage officer in the particular marriage office. This required condition under Special Marriage Act infringes rights of the parties to marriage as their personal details are disclosed (infringement of right to privacy), their marriage can be opposed by anyone (infringement of right to marriage) and lastly, they cannot undo these provisions (infringement of right to freedom of expression).
Violation of Constitutional Right:
Article 21: It ensures the fundamental right to life and liberty. It ensures the right to marry an individual of one’s own choice. But Special Marriage Act weakens one’s right to marry a person of his/her own choice. It also weakens one’s right to live with dignity.
Article 14: It ensures equality before law or equal protection of law within the territory of the state. But the couples entering for special marriage (interfaith marriage) are treated unequally as anyone can object their marriage, during 30 days period.
Article 19: It ensures the right to freedom of speech and expression. But the couples entering for special marriage are not allowed to express their feelings. Only media misuses this power in order to infringe their right to privacy.
Article 25-28: It ensures the right to religion; one can choose whichever religion they want to practice. But the Hindu girl who choose to marry a Muslim boy cannot convert her religion, it is a crime for her (people consider it as a forcible conversion).
Media misusing its power:
Article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution empowers media to express but it cannot be absolute, it has certain limitations. Freedom of press are limited and is mentioned in article 19(1)(2) of Indian Constitution related to problems like supremacy of state, security of state, public order, defamation, contempt, decency and incitement to an offence.
Role of Media:
On Jan 20, 2015 Pravakta.com printed extremely sensualist record titled “India is destroyed by Love Jihad.”
“Three hundred girls will explain the reality of Love Jihad” issued by Webduniya.com.
Webduniya.com published a fake news saying that Muslim boys are getting funding from foreign.
The Telegraph (British portal) on December 12, 2020 broadcasted “first women arrested under India’s disputed Love Jihad laws suffers miscarriage. “While inspector refused the news and rendered it as false news.
A portal named Hindu Post issued false news stating that a Muslim boy attacked a Hindu girl as she denied his love proposal on December 21, 2020. While inspector said that there was no religion hatred in this case, both are from same community.
Dumbest thing ever said by a chief news editor and an anchor of Zee News:
“There are many different kinds of jihad- population jihad, land jihad, economic jihad and media jihad, among others”
Laws against Love Jihad:
These laws deal with the “coercive conversions” commonly known as Love Jihad laws. It is drafted to stop forced conversions by marriage. It proclaims these kinds of marriage as invalid or void, only if the main purpose is to convert a girl’s religion.As of now, only four states passed this law i.e., Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Karnataka. Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh recently passed the law. Uttar Pradesh recognized the law as the Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance on November 28, 2020 and Madhya Pradesh passed the law in December initiating imprisonment up to 10 years, if anyone breaks the law.
R. Rajagopal alias R.R. Gopal and Another vs. State of Tamil Nadu and Others: In this case, Supreme Court restricted the freedom of press in relation to right to privacy. “A citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child bearing and education among other matters. No one can publish anything concerning the above matters without his consent - whether truthful or otherwise and whether laudatory or critical. If he does so, he would be violating the right to privacy of the person concerned and would be liable in an action for damages.” Hence, Indian judiciary identifies right of an individual to marry (with any person of any caste or religion) as well as agreed on their right to privacy
Love Jihad: A Political agenda or actual distress
As we all know, necessity is the mother of invention. Similarly, the developing world makes us broad minded. Young people keep their thoughts superior over religion and caste. That is why, India is called a country of diversity, people of different caste, religion live together. Now, everyone celebrates each religion’s festival. Everyone (Hindus, Muslim, Sikhs ………. Jains) goes to church to celebrate Christmas, people visit Golden temple, Ajmer Sharif. This shows that there is no communal hatred between individuals but just before the elections, they start this controversy in order to receive more votes. As shown in movie “Dhadak”, there is conflict over marriages calling honour killing but it is not against an individual community. Parents punish their son/daughter if they marry someone from any other community. India needs to learn how to refuse hatred and spirit to regard who dare to love. We need to change the mind of blind bhakts of religious institutions to make India cleaner
Tanishq Jewellery ad shows an interfaith partner performing baby shower for a Hindu wife by her Muslim family (in laws). But boycott tanishq started trending on social media. Tanishq removed the ad from YouTube as to stop the trolling. Shashi Tharoor twitted on this matter saying “So Hindutva bigots have called for a boycott of @TanishqJewellery for highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad. If Hindu-Muslim “ekatvam” irks them so much, why don’t they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world -- India?”
Hindustan Unilever Limited’s recent Surf Excel ad displayed Hindu-Muslim unity. A young girl wearing white dress selected to get her dress stained for the sake of her Muslim friend who wants to go local mosque to pray. But some people started boycotting surf excel. According to them, this ad encourages love jihad and disgraced Hinduism by showing Holi colour as a stain (daag), it is not admissible for Hindus and it is accomplished purposely.
These controversy shows that India has a large number of people against the interfaith marriage. This is unheard India, where the person who encourages communal hatred are applauded but the one who brings communal understandings are exploited. This shows the other side of secularism where a small ad creates hatred. These trollers are the one who cannot pay for jewellery but trolls a beautiful ad.
Love is something that someone can feel but cannot see, it is a feeling of affection towards someone. Anyone can have feelings for one. Love don’t know the barriers of caste, religion, colour. But nowadays, that love, affection is a crime. If you are a Hindu boy and loves Muslim girl its love but if you are a Muslim boy and loves a Hindu girl and vice versa, it is an offence. We say that life is very unfair but life is not unfair rather the people in this world are mean. These persons who are against the interfaith marriage are the same who thinks rape took place because girls wear small dresses, makes friends (especially boy). Everyone has the right to choose their life partner of any caste, religion, gender, race etc. As our lifestyle is changing day by day, individual’s opinion must be acknowledged. Media have the right to freedom of expression but they should not breach women’s right. If media will keep to act careless in matters of women rights, communal hatred, the vision to achieve a country free of gender equality will remain as an issue of ill treatment.
As we all know this is India, where the boy who raped a girl never gets exploited by public but the girl gets to hear wrong about herself and family. Privacy issue is really very poor in India. The girl who chooses to marry a boy of her own choice are treated as a victim. Girl’s personal details are shown by media, which makes it hard for the girl as well as her family to live with dignity. For Indian parents, “What people will say” matters more than their child’s happiness. They compare their child’s choice/ happiness with their dignity (what will society think). We need to change this mentality, society is made up of groups of people of different culture, caste. We can bring that change by making it new normal to marry whoever we want (without seeing their caste, religion, race). India is a developing country, changing with time, this issue is also a need of new India, without any barrier, without any fundamental breach. Honestly speaking if today I asked my parent to allow me to marry a Muslim boy or a Christian boy, they will never allow me to do that. But it’s our life, our choice and this is a society which brings change. Imagine a life with full freedom of choice, it will create a better world. It’s not that our rights (constitution) need to be amended but the society need to amend their thoughts, according to the new generation. The generation which will never quarrel for religious issues but will make India 3rd largest economy in the world.
Kumar Sumit, A Case Study on R. Rajagopal alias R.R. Gopal and Another Vs. State of Tamil Nadu, Legal Service India.com, http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/435/A-Case-Study-on-R.-Rajagopal-alias-R.R.-Gopal-and-Another-Vs.-State-of-Tamil-Nadu.html.
Raya Ghosh, Tanishq removes Hindu-Muslim ad after outrage. Shashi Tharoor has a scathing reply, India Today (13 oct, 2020), https://www.indiatoday.in/trending-news/story/tanishq-removes-hindu-muslim-ad-after-outrage-shashi-tharoor-has-a-scathing-reply-1731140-2020-10-13.
Articles from The Hindu
The Constitution of India, 1950- Bare Act
(Legal intern at S. Bhambri & Associates- 1st May Batch)
CMRU SOLS, Bengaluru