Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Sunday said that his government will look into a proposal to make parental consent mandatory for love marriages.
At an event, Patel recalled a conversation with state Health Minister Rushikesh Patel about the need to study incidents of young women eloping. “If the Constitution supports it, then we will carry out a study regarding this,” he said.
Patel’s comments came four months after Congress MLA Geniben Thakor and BJP legislator Fatesinh Chauhan demanded an amendment to the Gujarat Registration of Marriages Act to include parental consent.
The announcement has also drawn support from opposition parties. “The family of the girl breaks down and is not able to face the society when she runs away from the house,” The Indian Express quoted Congress MLA Imran Khedawala as saying. “Parents raise their children, so their consent should be made mandatory,” he said.
While the government is only contemplating the bill, the announcement has started a heated discourse.
Demanding parental consent in a love marriage between two consenting persons is against Article 14 & unconstitutional. The fight for women’s autonomy & rights is an ongoing battle that the state cannot pushback for its political whims & fancies. https://t.co/1PYT3htI9x
— Maitree Muzumdar (@maitreemuz) August 1, 2023
Forcing adults to seek parental consent for love marriages limits their personal freedom and subjects them to parental authority. Many believe this move would hinder their emotional development and ability to make decisions independently.
“It feels like a disaster waiting to happen,” says Hetvi(26) who lives in Anand, Gujarat.
“Do they want us to depend on our parents for everything? Next thing you know, they’re making parental consent necessary to have sex with your partner,” she adds.
Shraddha (20) echoes her sentiments, “I am concerned that our politicians are wasting their time on laws like this instead of assessing the root cause of the problem — educate your women to be independent so they don’t feel the need to marry so young. But, wouldn’t be surprised if this is just another excuse for them to suppress women,” she says.
“When I first read the news, I literally just assumed it was satire,” said Urvish (20). “Does our government have that much free time that they’re spending it controlling people’s personal lives?” he further added.
Still, a few people see the pros of this proposed bill. “We have seen way too many cases of younger children marrying someone who is wrong for them and later regretting it,” says Nishad (26), stating that there’s a surprisingly increasing trend among the youth marrying before 25.
“Regardless of the motives, limiting people’s freedom like this is not the way to go,” argues Neha (20). “There are parents who don’t care what is best for their children, especially their daughters. This thing could backfire in so many ways,” she adds.