Religious Conversion: An Issue Only When A Woman Is Involved?

Posted by Aniket Verma in Politics, Society
February 4, 2018

The whole debate on the issue of love jihad in India is now internationalised with top agencies like BBC and New York Times covering it extensively. Whether it is the sensational case of Hadiya alias Akhila or the heinous murder of a man in Rajasthan by a psychopath, passions are running high and enabling people to put forward their opinions on the contentious issue.

Unsurprisingly, the entire argument is being seen from a communal prism by most parties, thereby reducing the debate to a Hindu vs Muslim issue. But there is more to this than meets the eye! The hidden sexism is inherent in our arguments today.

The right-wing forces seem to have a problem only when the woman in question is a Hindu and has converted to Islam after marriage. It is tough to remember an instance when there was similar uproar after a Hindu man married a Muslim woman.

In fact, the Hindu Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the RSS had plans of marrying more than 2,100 Muslim women to Hindu men under a programme which it terms as “Beti Bachao, Bahu Lao (Save the daughters, bring home daughter-in-laws).” The chief of the organization unabashedly termed the exercise as a form of “reverse love jihad”. Now, this makes sense for saffron organizations because the girls after marriage will come under the Hindu family and the children produced will be Hindus, as in most families in India where patrilineal lineage and religion dominates the matrilineal one.

On the contrary, their vitriolic voices against the marriage of Hindu woman with a Muslim man emanates from their fears of an increasing “Islamisation of India” where the woman will be used to produce Muslim kids. As a result, it has become their habit to thwart such marriages and give moral counselling to girls against such an alliance.

And it’s not just Hindu orthodoxy which gets unnerved at such situations. Islamic organizations are also not amused at the prospect of seeing their women marry Hindu men. There have been cases where Muslim women became victims of vicious online abuse after they married men from a different community, many of such incidents in Kerala. It is important to note that as per Islamic laws, a Muslim man is allowed to marry non-Muslim women (preferably Jews and Christians) but a Muslim woman has no such rights.

Which brings us to a very sensitive issue of the setup of this society where all morals, codes rest on the shoulders of the fairer sex, and she must preserve it all through her life.While it is tolerable to see men breaking the rules, everyone loses their mind if the woman even thinks about going against the line. What a sad state of affairs!