This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Akanksha kapil. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“The Only Way We Can Stop Hate Is To Remove ‘Jihad’ And Leave ‘Love’ Alone”

On Tuesday, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet approved a draft ordinance against forced religious conversions or interfaith marriages with the only intention of changing girls’ religion. From the last few weeks, four state governments including Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, and Assam had already shown their interest in bringing a law against forced conversions or a term called “Love Jihad.”

“Love Jihad” is described as a practice in which a Muslim male woos a Hindu female to marry her, just for the sake of changing her religion to Islam. The right-wing Hindu leaders believe that it is a real phenomenon that is present in India and is a huge threat to Hindu women, while the left-wing believes that it is a conspiracy theory by extremist Hindu leaders to polarize people in the name of religion and create a divide. So, what does a term like “Love Jihad” actually tell us and what are the roots of its origin?

Roots Of Its Origin

Caste, class and religion: India is surely a secular country where people celebrate every festival from Diwali to Christmas, to Eid, but when it comes to personal relationships, people like to get attached within their communities, based on their caste, religion and class. This is the reason that no matter how open-minded people become, they will always be attached to the patriarchal mindset that they have been fed for years. The road to interfaith marriages is getting worse day by day in India and it takes a plethora of efforts by an interfaith couple to be accepted by their families and the society.

Consent of women: Thanks to the patriarchy, women in India are still considered as objects too fragile to take their own decisions, whether the decision involves their personal choices, education or marriage. I know that is not entirely true when it comes to educated families in urban areas but that forms just a small section of India. A much bigger section lives far from that environment.

Just accept the fact that women in India are seen as soft objects that need instruction because, of course, they don’t have the mind to think of their own.

A fascination of Hindu Rashtra: No, I am not saying this just because I want to criticize the government for its extremist Hindu ideologies. I am saying this for all the people who are fascinated with the idea of a Hindu Rashtra, which is being fed by the political leaders.

Do We Need An Act?

Firstly, there is no proper definition of what “Love Jihad” is. The central government itself has said that no cases of “Love Jihad” has been reported by central agencies. The several attempts to investigate the cases of “Love Jihad” in Kerala and Karnataka have found no evidence and most of the reported cases were found to be consensual. But if any case of forced conversion happens, there are several laws to cover for the punishment. The man can be booked under different laws including cheating, forced assault, and many more.

Secondly, the law does not do much for the female as declaring marriages which are forced conversions as void does not bear significant fruit.

If Not them, Then Who’s Going To Benefit?

So, the only benefit that it could provide is an opportunity for extremist political leaders who want to create a communal divide between the people. People in politics may change over the years but politics remains the same. The policy of divide and rule is not unknown to the people of politics and religion is the best way to do that.  The politicization of interfaith marriages has been done for mere political gains.

You must be living under a rock if you are not aware of the extremist Hindu ideologies of the government which led to the incidents of communal divide. Muzaffarnagar riots are an example of how people in politics can influence riots for their political gains.

There is enough social stigma around inter-caste and inter-religion marriages in India and these kinds of laws are just going to increase them more. Photo: Indian Express

What Harm Could It Do?

  1. Creating a communal divide

Several incidents of the past have already created enough fear among the minorities of the country. If you had thought that CAA and the Ram Mandir issue had created enough gap between the Hindus and Muslims of the country, there comes an avenue that could do the highest amount of harm to the communal harmony of the country.

  1. Deepening the social stigma

There is enough social stigma around inter-caste and inter-religion marriages in India and these kinds of laws are just going to increase them more. Interfaith marriage couple have to fight enough to get social acceptance already.

  1. Attack on the rights of women

It looks like we are going back to the time when women were not allowed to take decisions or stand up for their own. Today, every adult women in India has the right to choose her partner, irrespective of his religion or community, but this law directly attacks their right to choose or right to practice any religion that they want.

This law overall questions the secular identity of India, where we see a beautiful integration of culture and people across different religions living together. To follow the popular phrase: “Love has no religion, be it a Hindu or a Muslim.” The only way we can stop hate is to remove “Jihad” and leave “Love” alone.

You must be to comment.

More from Akanksha kapil

Similar Posts

By Akshay Sonawane

By Vaishnavi Gond

By Snayini Das

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below