Live In Relationships – An Indian Woman’s Perspective

live-in-relationship.gifIn the last few years, education for the girl child was widely promoted by social and religious groups and also Indian government, in terms of financial assistance, and the result is there in front of our eyes. A whole generation of confident, English speaking, trousers clad women are India’s active workforce – in traditional and not so traditional roles like DJ, RJ, film direction, event management, call centre executives, stewardesses, even petrol pump assistants etc. Although, this amounts to a very meagre percentage.

Apart from education, there is one more thing, which I feel, is liberating for Indian women, it has the potential to empower our young and intelligent girls, it is Live-In Relationships. I call it liberating because Indian marriages are not truely marriage of two souls, they are more of an arrangement, relationship between two families (who really do not care for you), sometimes financial and business goals are there, but its hardly the union of two souls.

Live Ins are the answer for that fake pompousness and the great facade a traditional Indian marriage put in front of the society. And it’s considered better to be in “a being together without commitment to marry” relationship than a dead marriage, which many youngsters witness in their families.

Reasons for being in Live in can be many. It can be that you love a person and want to find out how compatible you would be in marriage setup, may be legally you cannot be in wedlock and then the Live-in provides you the companionship you so desire. More or less, its the desire to know the person completely before getting into marriage, that seems to be the reason, here in India.

If we really see, just how sinful it was assumed just a few years back for a man and a woman to cohabit without the social sanctity, and just in a few years, the society is beginning to acknowledge its existence and is giving a subtle nod too. If the couple is staying away from the either parents, and parents do not have to answer the questions of the other parents, everyone is fine.

Moreover, when this social change is there because prominent people of media spoke about it, causing outrage in society and then our judiciary stood up for the rights of unmarried adults who want to live together without the bondage of marriage. A few of the major developments have been :

1. The Indian Supreme Court has said that premarital sex not an offence. (in terms of live in relationships in unmarried adults)

2. Justice Malimath Committee as well as the Law Commission of India states that if a woman has been in a ‘live in’ relationship for a reasonable period, she should enjoy the legal rights of the wife. Although ‘reasonable period’ has not been defined, which can be misused.

3. The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act 2005 benefits women in Live-in relationships as in marriage.

But still one major question needs urgent answer, ie., the status of children born out of wedlocks, which is a serious issue. In my opinion, only YOU have the right to be in a relationship which suits you, but bringing another life in it should mean serious and clear decisions in terms of commitment with the guy.

Moreover, property and maintenance issues can hamper the very free spirit of a live in relationship, which is supposed to be a “no strings attached” thing. A live-in should be a matter of choice, a matter of desire and not a compromise with situation and the need to be protected.

Women should be given a chance to know what they are heading into or else they may suffer and give in to the thick and inescapable net of marriage. But for this women really need to be smart and just know that they do not give in to any exploitation, especially financial, and learn to assert themselves.

I am hopeful about this big social change. What do you say? How do you see it ten years from now? Are you in a Live-in? or a friend of yours? what are the practical issues involved? Do share you views about this post.


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