Today is a sad day for Indian Culture. The Family System is well and truly on course of an early demise. After Madras High Court now the Supreme Court has put its stamp of recognition to Live-in relationships. . It seems the march of Westernisation is in full swing in Indian Territory. The judgment seeks to ensure the rights of women and their children born out of live-in relationships. But in the process, it makes the live in relationship not only perfectly legitimate but also socially acceptable. Madras High Court had given the clarification that it does not intend to undermine the institution of marriage. The SC judgment does not even recognize the sanctity of marriage and has instead chosen to cite the examples of other countries in recognizing the live-in. The judgment will spark an intense debate; but as is always the case, in the wake of this judgment, the impact of New World Order on relationships will be sought to be institutionalized in the country. The media will seek to normalize these relationships. The corporate-funded NGOs will find in it another opportunity to dilute the institution of marriage.
There are people who justify live in relationships as “as good as marriages”. They are unable to realize the huge differences in the two. In a marriage, sex is preceded by a commitment to develop a family life in accordance with the declared and undeclared rules of marriage in different communities. In Civil marriage, the state appointed authorities authenticate the desire of such a bond. In a live in relationship, more often than not sex precedes the commitment. If at all there is a commitment before physical intimacy, it has no legal or social sanctity. The difference between the two is the same as between a statement made under oath and one made without oath. Live in relationships normally develop after a certain period of time. Like a smoker or drinker, the “partners” too have the first encounter. The first puff or sip does not necessarily lead to long lasting habits. Not all sexual encounters develop into live in relationships and not all live in relationships end into marriages.
If live in is equal to marriage, why then not marry? They do not marry simply because their commitment level is low at the beginning of the relationship. The laws and social pressures that make marriage difficult and divorcing still more difficult entice the partners to first test each other before making a commitment under oath. The Western recognition of the rights of their children has made women feel comfortable with the relationships. The same will happen in India if live in relationship is normalized and recognized as a socially acceptable institution.
However, apart from religious morality, which would always remain a key factor in the eyes of the faithful, there are several other reasons, medical and social, that would be enough grounds for a full-fledged campaign against such relationships. First, such relationships tend t dilute marriage based family system, which is the healthiest method of having a sexual life and safest method of safeguarding the interests of wives, would-be mothers, and their children. The amount of security and peace, which goes along with marriage, can never be attained in live in relationships. Second, the chances of abortions are much higher in live-in than in marriage. Third, live-in relationships delay the child bearing, and so the parents have much lesser life span to live with their children. Fourth, the children born out of these relationships have bigger chances of living in single parent families. As they grow, they do not feel psychologically as satisfied as the children born out of formal marriages. Fifth, men and women living in live-in relationships have greater chances of succumbing to promiscuousness, with all the attendant medical and social hazards that go along with promiscuity. Promiscuity has the biggest depressing effect on life expectancy, as it has been the major cause of HIV/AIDS and induced abortions. More than 1 billion human lives have been aborted before getting born in last 2 decades and promiscuity remains the single most lethal factor in this huge loss of lives. More than 40 million have died due to AIDS so far, and it will kill another 40 million in next 10-15 years. The rate of violence as well as suicides is also on the higher side in live-in and casual relationships.
Live in is usually a relationship limited to two individuals. Marriage is an extended bond between two families. Strengthening of family system is important if we want to reduce crimes, suicides, abortions and psychiatric illnesses. Comprehensive peace in society is unimaginable without a strong and peaceful family system. While there is a need to run a global campaign against all forms of sexual relationships outside a formal marriage between a male and a female, this cannot be tolerated in a country like India where the overwhelming majority of the people are believers in one or the other religion. They want to have the blessings of their deities and good wishes of their relatives in all their decisions. All religions must therefore unite against this onslaught on moral and family values in India. This alone will preserve the family system, which is surely one of the most lovable features of Indian society. We have to tell the world that religious morality is surely much better than the commercial morality promoted by the forces of economic fundamentalism that seek to convert human beings into commercial beings.
Women are much safer if casual relationships are curbed through all possible measures rather than legalizing them. Legalising vices only accentuate the problems. This is exactly what will happen now. Of course there are women and children who suffer out of such relationships. Legalising will only increase not decrease their numbers. Mere legal rights are not what humans seek. Legalising live0in would create much bigger social and health hazards.
It is unfortunate that in India, moral issues, family values and social norms are challenged only ny Muslims and Islamic organizations. Hindus and Christians, despite strong disapproval of all these vices in ther religions too, have largely fallen to the traps of the modernism. But this should not dither Islam lovers from initiating a campaign for the survival of family system. Hopefully, the followers of other religions will join them.
(Dr. Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 8130340339