Update: Keeping in mind the wide variety of people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds viewing my blog, I would like to re-iterate that live-in relationships are no less than a taboo in India and hence this topic. Also note that the opinions mentioned here are my own and should not be used to develop a generic view about a place or thing.
Persons who involve in live-in relationships are a part of the society and even if the relationship has no consideration for the law, the law and the society definitely have consideration for them. You see one bad fish can spoil the pond. Any incident considered immoral by law within a relationship (in an atmosphere like India’s which is always at dew point) can have dire ramifications. Yes it might be the same in marriage but marriage is an institution (Live-in is definitely not) where persons involved are bound by lofty obligations and have greater sense of understanding and patience.
Secondly. What point is there in a relationship if the obligations are fulfilled out of insecurity or fear of loosing the partner rather than true love (which in reality is very rarely found).
Live-in relationships might occur to fulfill the Sexual requirements of Human Body rather than “True Love” or search for it. On the other hand people might get into live-in relationship to observe if their partner is capable of satisfying their sexual desires (sounds harsh but is a ground reality in certain cases). In cases where the latter is true I have a quote to mention:
Entering a relationship for the sake of Sex is like buying a Boeing 747 for getting the free peanuts. – Jeff Foxworthy
If one knows that he or she loves someone why not go ahead and marry ’em? And of course, if there are any problems in the marriage and one finds it really difficult to sort out things go for a divorce. To ensure that this does not happen, pre-nuptial knot is what many are following. In addition, one should not marry because his or her parents are forcing them. One should only marry they think that they are ready for it and do good amount of research before going ahead.
All in all, as Live-in is a concept developed by the members of society, for it to exist in the society without any harm to any member, the society must ensure that no room is left for Live-in to affect our peaceful existence. Therefore, the interference by law is a compulsion for the well-being of the people.
A woman becomes a Mother not by the virtue of giving birth to a child but by taking up the responsibilities to raise it. Similar is the case with a man being father. Have you heard about babies being abandoned in garbage cans or some abandoned babies being killed and chewed by stray dogs? Who knows… they might be the result of such a relationship. This again shows that the importance of law in such cases cannot be over-emphasized. Well designed laws can become the hand that saves or even prevents.
I never meant to imply that Live-ins are against our culture. Frankly I do not know if they are because I have little knowledge of the relevant ancient texts. But I do understand that Live-ins is now a part of the society whether we like it or not. The very fact that we are discussing it on this forum shows the amount of significance that this topic has at least among the youth.
In the course of society’s evolution when radical (today it does seem radical, tomorrow it may be insignificant and widely prevalent) concepts like live-ins arise, it is important for the society to mould this concept in to a right frame as it matures over a period of time. And this is where I think the interference of law is highly welcomed.
The long and iron hands of law will ensure that concepts like live-ins, when they surface and threaten the society with unforeseen consequences, do not harm the society in a way that they are capable of.
A very sensitive topic I want to raise here would be the protection of women. When we do not have all encompassing laws with reference to the physical, mental and sexual harassment a woman might face in a marriage, what will govern the same issues in a live-in? I simply mean to says that the books of law have definitions for each of the above-mentioned parameters in a marriage but for live-ins the parameters need to be redefined and written down such that the judicial system appears to be on top of it and is capable of providing justice to an victims of luck who were involved in such relationships.
Updating laws will also help more serious and complicated issues like the sexual harassment of males by females (for those who do not know that, there is a clause which allows usage of the word “rape” with reference to a man) and cases of young lads being set-up and framed by loose women with the help of the concept of live-ins.
Moreover inclusion of law brings our rather old, rigid and outdated judicial system at par with the society and its pace.
With reference to the comparison with marriage, cultural issues apart, I stick to my views and believe that they cannot be treated equally unless the law is updated to handle the issues arising out of live-ins.
Law or legalizing are not detrimental to the existence of live-ins. Prostitution is illegal and yet it is widely prevalent. Polygamy is illegal and yet in this part of the country it is practiced without notice. Therefore live-ins which are not illegal (does not mean they are legal, its status quo), will obviously continue to exist.
Live-ins are in status quo. No book of law states that it is legal. Live-ins where parties involved are in peaceful co-existence cannot be touched by law but the ones where issues arise, law can be used for unfair advantage and that gives rise to the need for an overall “interference” by law.
Another example to show the power of law:
In the not so distant past, law has played pivotal role in changing the mindset of the society. The best example to show this is the “abolishment of the practice of sati” during the British rule. Though we still have people, who believe in it, their number is very minuscule. How was this number brought down? With law’s help. Of course there were other factors like spread of western education and concepts etc but law’s role was major.
As mentioned before, Live-in relationship is a radical new concept and the role of law can be pivotal in the change management process. However, I agree that we will never be able to legalize LIRs as the society is not ready for it. If all are matured and good, every thing is gr8 and no legalization is required as there will be no issues and we all know that. But if you look at the larger picture, it is not perfect. Had it been so, every thing would have been so cool. However, what’s to be done about the weak part of the tree???
One idea: To inculcate maturity amongst the youth regarding issues like LIRs, Sex Education at a pre-decided and appropriate age could be an option. It will help guys and gals get well prepared for facing such situations. I think it’s like mental pre-conditioning. Parents also need to have an active role here. This appears to be a much milder and much practical step when compared to legalizing LIRs.