By Ila Ananya
Is your marriage a sham if your parents don’t approve of it?
The Kerala High Court seems to think so — 24-year-old Akhila’s marriage was declared “null and void” by the High Court since her parents weren’t present at her marriage and hadn’t given her their consent. Apparently marriage is an important decision, and it’s especially more important in a woman’s life, so it can only be taken with the active involvement of her parents.
The court seems to be saying two bizarre things in its decision: that a woman isn’t ‘allowed’ to get married to a person of her choice if her parents don’t approve, and that this is especially problematic for women (because it’s the most important thing in a woman’s life and all that). “The marriage which is alleged to have been performed is a sham and is of no consequence in the eye of the law,” the court reportedly said, before directing Akhila to return to her parents’ house.
As if all of this isn’t ridiculous enough, the case doesn’t end there.
No jokes, now it involves a forced religious conversion, a fight about a Hindu-Muslim marriage, and the Islamic State.
The known background at the moment is that Akhila’s father, Ashokan Mani, had filed a habeas corpus petition in January 2016, claiming that Akhila, who was doing Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery course, had been forced to convert to Islam. Her father claimed he got suspicious when she refused to perform Hindu rituals at her grandfather’s funeral, and later heard she had been seen wearing a veil, because of which he got a mild heart attack. Apparently she’d lived with two Muslim women who had done this, although reports say that Akhila has categorically said in court that she had willingly converted to Islam and wanted to pursue Islamic studies at Satyasarani.
Her father, who was unsatisfied with her response, filed another Habeas Corpus petition this year, this time involving the IS, claiming that they’d forced her to convert, and he was worried that she’d be taken out of India to join the IS in Afghanistan. This is when she was asked for her marriage documents (Akhila got married to a Muslim man), following which the Kerala High Court declared her marriage to be void.
Now, the couple has decided to fight this “denial of justice”. But we’re just wondering why it’s so hard for people to believe that women are capable of making decisions for themselves? And what is happening here?