Is love a crime?

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but my family comes from India. We moved to the US in the 90s when I was quite young, so I consider myself American rather than Indian. That being said, growing up in an Indian household means that you can’t escape social, cultural and religious influences and pressures to conform to the traditions of “being Indian”. One of these pressures is to marry someone that your family has approved of. Of course, Indian traditions are not alone in this regard. I think that that most cultures and families do pressure individuals in some way about their marriage partner. And it’s natural for parents to have some expectations of who their son/daughter being into their family. However, there’s a line when parental preference become parental rejection, and I think that this is a line that Indian families in particular cross.

My friend introduced me to Satyamev Jayate, meaning “Truth alone triumphs”. The show, hosted by Bollywood actor  and filmmaker Aamir Khan,  highlights sensitive issues that are pervasive throughout India, such as female foeticide, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, the dowry system, and the caste system. As a side note, everyone should watch this, especially all Indians, because it does a great job of reminding us that the traditions  that bind us as a community and which we are holding onto so steadfastly are hampering and disenfranchising so many members of our community. Then how can we remain so loyal to these traditions?

Episode 5 asks the question “Is love a crime?” Often in India and for Indians living abroad, love is essentially a crime that is punishable by family rejection, pressure for the couples to break up, and at worst, honor killings. Indian law gives all individuals past a certain age the right to marry the person of their choice, so long as they are not related. However, as you will seen in the episode below, due to differences in religion, caste or social standing, individuals are persecuted for marrying.

While India is a democracy in name, I don’t think it can fully claim to be a democratic country until it succeeds in changing the mindset of the majority. How can its citizens still allow honor killings to occur? Maybe someone can educate me on what honor there is in killing someone simply because they’ve fallen in love with the “wrong” person.

What did you think about the show?