How to Stop Run Away Marriages
By Simran Sabharwal
Two wonderful people are blessed with the most beautiful feeling - LOVE. The couple decides to get married. But due to some reasons, the parents are not ready for the marriage. Or it happens that the couple is not ready to inform their parents about their love. It is very common in India that couples marry against their parent’s wishes or the parents are not willingly ready for the marriage. So, the couple elopes and gets married. But that’s not the only solution. The couple may face many problems in future. Also, the laws are hollow and are not able to support couples who elope and get married.
Why do runaway marriages happen?
Not only in India but also in other nations, people run away and get married. However, the percentage is more in India.
The common reason is that the parents are not agreeing for the marriage. Why don’t the parents agree? In a country like India, inter-caste marriages are still considered to be a taboo. Parents suffer from societal pressure and as a result, they do not agree to the marriage. Also, consent may not be given because of age or family background.
As a result, the couple decides to elope and get married. The other reason which couples cite is to escape from spending in an extravagant wedding. So, to save money they run away and get married ?
The couple also elopes as the fear of honor killing still prevails. Honor killing is the murder of a family member as the elderly people believe him/her to be a black sheep. They believe by marrying in other castes they are bringing disgrace to the family and also violating the principles of their religion. That is to say, the couple runs away in order to avoid the shame killing by their family.
Usually, the reason is non-acceptance of the wedding by the parents. The stubborn couple decides to go to some other place and get married without realizing the consequences.
Legal implications of running away with a woman in India
When the couple runs away and gets married there are certain legal complications that follow.. In order to protect yourself from the charges, you need to adhere to the laws.Here is something which you should know if you are in love and planning to get married against parents wish.
If the girl is below 18 years of age and is unable to give the consent, the male is under serious problems. He can also be charged with kidnapping.
But if the girl is above 18 years of age and is able to give her consent, in the eyes of law, it will not be termed as illegal and no one has the right to forbid the marriage.
Though there are some cases in which the bride later claims that she was forced to marry the man (even if she is above 18), in that case, the male is under some serious legal troubles. He can be charged with abduction.
But unless she does that, there is nothing a family can do and the marriage is purely legal.
Also, you need to get married in the right court of jurisdiction or the place where your residential area is so that you have sufficient address proofs.
But pondering upon the third point again, what if the girl who was supporting you before, changes her mind and then you are full of legal troubles. Or it might be a trap. That is the reason runaway marriages should be stopped and a marriage after the consent of all should be performed.
Also, runaway marriages can be an invitation to emotional harassments. There may come times when there will be no one to support the immature couple. Apart from emotional support, one also requires financial support. There may be financial issues which may arise as you need a shelter to stay safe somewhere.
Charges of section 498A may follow. If the girl’s side is rich enough the charges of section 498A may haunt the men for long.
Runaway marriages should, in any case, be stopped as it may not only lead to certain problems in future but also aloofness from the society.
Solution to stop runaway marriages in India
Runaway marriages should be stopped as the couple at that time is not aware of the problems which it may face in future. Apart from legal troubles, there are social troubles that may come along. So, runaway marriages should be better avoided. The statement “runaway and get married” may sound good but the excitement and the goodness may not stay forever. The couple thereafter has to take care of each other, live together in times of happiness and distress and support each other emotionally as well as economically. If they, later on, blame each other and expect their parents to understand them, then it is never possible. As a result, the marriage leads to troubles. In India, still, there are several arranged marriages and parents may disown their children who decide for the other forms of marriage. But if the two persons are mature enough then the marriage could work. The arrange marriage system often fails and the entire blame is shifted upon the immature decisions on the part of these parents. Nevertheless, the most immature decision anyone can take is to runaway and get married.
Education : Although most of the love marriages or the inter-caste marriages reported in the year 2015, were done by highly educated people but education can help in other ways too. Educating people can help to become aware of the fact that castes and religion are of less importance in marriage and marrying out of castes do not bring disgrace to the family. It will help them to accept that there are no caste differences and eventually their thinking process will develop which will help them to accept inter-caste marriages. Also, the younger generation will learn what is right and what is wrong for them. If the decision which they have made is good for them, they will know how to convince their parents to accepting their relation. Education can help to stop runaway marriages.
Talk to your parents: communication can always help. Try to convince them about your marriage. You can also seek legal help like mediation. Be sure about yourself that the person you seek to marry is your right choice. Parents will agree and you can have your marriage with the desired person. Have proper counseling before marriage because there may be no turning back and the only alternative available - divorce is not given easily.
Remember, the best thing is to convince your parents. Awareness, meditation and counselling is the key for runaway marriages.
The government can do a lot to protect the right of the couples who are not able to get married. Every person is entitled to the Right to Marry under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
Still, there were times of honor killing when the couple was killed because they married the person out of caste. Now, all that has stopped on a larger scale but still, there are cases of honor killing which are reported by the newspaper agencies. The government should make stringent laws for people who still follow this practice.
The Special Marriage Act is a hollow one. There are very few lawyers who practice the Special Marriage Act, 1954 which basically offers a provision of the inter-caste marriages. The provisions of this act still remain underutilized.
From 2013- 2015 only 18 couples in Haryana applied for their registration under the Special Marriage Act which surely cannot be the reality.
Even after elopement, some brides are brought back home and coerced into marriages made by the family members.
Also, office workers do not sympathise with the runaway couples rather they too think of them as a blot on the clan. The entire thought process needs to be changed.
The government should also start advertisements to teach the people on issues like this. This is an issue which cannot be taken lightly.
One should try to avoid runaway marriage. Instead, try to arrange or live together. Running away from troubles at an initial stage would be very difficult and emotional later on. You should save yourself from the emotional death which your parents may give you because of society’s respect and this may lead to break your marriage. But if the bond is strong enough, you’ll survive the emotional death. Eloping and getting married is the most immature decision one can take. There will be stress build up in future and no one will be there to support you. Everything will cost you something. So, instead of running away and getting married one should keep his composure and think with a cool mind.
Also, avoid fake cases and misuse of Indian laws. The laws which are made to empower women should not be misused as this also leads to the pendency of cases in the courts.Females should be empowered but men should not be the enemy. Equal laws should be made for both the parties. Awareness should be raised on runaway marriages so that the hype gets lowered and it does not become an issue in India. Lastly, encouraging counseling and mediation can help a lot.