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

Boon Or Bane: What Does The Anti-Conversion Law Mean For Inter-Faith Couples?

अपनी मोहब्बत की पाक्साज़ी का सबूत जब सर-ए-बज़ार दिया

तब एहसास हुआ की मैने प्यार नही गुनाह किया

(When I swore the purity of my love in public, I realised I hadn’t loved but sinned)

What Is The So-Called ‘Love Jihad’?

On 27th November 2020, The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance was promulgated. This will help the Uttar Pradesh government in their fight against ‘love jihad’ through which Muslim men are allegedly converting young Hindu women under pretenses.

Representational Image. Special marriage Act allows inter-faith marriages without undergoing conversion, but this comes with its own terms and conditions.

I emphasize the word ordinance because it is different from an act in the way it is passed. When the legislature of the Union is not in session, and there is an urgent need to enforce an act, the government passes a proposal which, when approved by the President or Governor, becomes an ordinance.

Simply speaking, an ordinance is the equivalent of an Act; but is not passed by the legislature. So what was this “emergency” that the BJP led Uttar Pradesh government could not wait for the legislature to be back in session and had to pass an ordinance?

Well, your guess is as good as mine. But it raises an important question that if the ruling party passes laws without public consultation stating emergencies, then is that not fundamentally against the principles of Democracy?

What Does The Law Say?

While this anti-conversion law affects many aspects of human life, the most pronounced effect is on inter-faith marriages. If you are a Hindu woman thinking of marrying a Muslim man, think again. If you are still determined to marry him, these are the few, very simple steps that you have to follow now.

Step 1: Give a declaration at least 60 days in advance to the DM stating that you are converting your religion on your own without any force, allurement, or undue influence. If you do not send this declaration, then you can be imprisoned for a term not less than 6 months, but may extend to 3 years and will also be liable to a fine not less than Rs. 10000.

Step 2: The religious convertor, who would be performing the conversion ceremony, also has to give a declaration 30 days in advance to the DM stating where the ceremony would be taking place. Whoever contravenes this provision will be imprisoned for a term not less than 1 year, but may extend to 5 years and liable to a fine not less than Rs. 25000.

This definitely simplifies the search for a religious convertor.

You are ignorant if you think these are all the steps.

Step 3: After receiving the declarations, the DM will then get an inquiry conducted through policy with regard to the “real” intention, purpose and cause of the proposed religious conversion.

You have now converted to another religion and are counting the days leading to your marriage. Well, better to keep a buffer of 60 additional days because here comes.

Step 4: You have to send another declaration to the DM within 60 days of the conversion, intimating about the conversion.

Step 5: Since you can be drugged and forced into signing and sending all the declarations of Step 1, 2, and 4, you now have to appear in front of the DM within 21 days of sending the declaration to establish your identity and confirm the contents of the declaration.

If you fail to follow steps 3, 4, and 5, the conversion will be declared illegal and void.

Also, the burden of proof that religious conversion was not done through misrepresentation or force lies on the person who has caused the conversion. So if a woman is converting to another religion, men, please make sure you have sufficient WhatsApp chats, voice notes, and love letters at all times where the woman confirms that she is converting out of the pure free will.

Why Was This Ordinance Passed By The UP Governor Anandiben Patel?

Defending the anti-conversion law, Anandiben Patel mentions “surveys” that showed the need for this law. However, there are no such survey results available online for the public to see. The National Investigation Agency and National Commission for Women do not have any data on “love jihad” either.

Since the 1 month of the anti-conversion law, 14 cases have been filed, and 51 arrests have been made. Of these, in only 2 cases, the complainant is actually the woman.

Another “totally unrelated” fact is that Anandiben Patel also belonged to the Bhartiya Janta Party before becoming the governor.

Is There A Way To Marry Someone From Another Religion Without Converting?

This is where the Special Marriage Act comes into play. This act allows inter-faith marriages without undergoing conversion, but hold on before you get too happy about it. Before solemnizing your marriage, a 30-day notice has to be published, and objections are invited from the public at large.

So, if you were planning to elope because your family objects to your marriage, this notice will bring you back to square one. On 13th January 2021, the Allahabad High Court gave a verdict to remove this mandatory publication of notice under the Special Marriage Act. This petition, however, is pending with the Supreme Court.

Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have already implemented these laws, and other states will soon follow suit. We can either chose not to marry the person we love or chose to speak against these laws. But we must choose.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay
Image is for representation purposes only.
You must be to comment.

More from Anshul Mittal

Similar Posts

By Hammad Bin Rashid

By Alok Mishra


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