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28 Aug 2003

The present report attempts to centrally place the issue of 'love marriages' within the ambit of the democratic rights movement.

From this perspective it examines the questions of the rights of women, of Dalits, of violations within the family and the community, and of the involvement of the state and its functionaries who share the same biases. Instances of marriages against parental diktat commonly called ‘love marriages’/ elopements followed by murders, suicides, beatings, forced separations, registration of false criminal cases and arrests have attracted increasing public attention of late The girl's family usually perpetrates these violent acts that are the visible manifestations of the violation of the individual's freedom to choose a partner. These instances also exemplify the assertion of this freedom by young people. The violence unleashed on couples who reject the community-based rules of marriage, and the complicity of the State in treating elopement as a criminal act, makes the issue a concern of the democratic rights movement. For, it involves a violation of the fundamental rights of life, liberty, and equality, and exposes the huge gap between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the lived reality of our society. Caste, religious and patriarchal structures in society provided the necessary sanction to these crimes committed by the state. When state commits offences, there is no automatic procedure that forces registration of the crime, on the contrary an entire machinery is set in motion to deny any wrong doing. Thus proving the existence of state excesses becomes the first, and normally an insurmountable hurdle.

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