Love Jihad: Ban On Polygamy Is A Better Option Than Making Special Laws
To control the menace of love jihad, a ban on the practice of polygamy may be one of the solutions.
Much has been written about love jihad – the targeted luring by Muslim men for marriage and conversion of non-Muslim women. Demography is destiny is a well-accepted truism. But more than demography per se, it is the religious nature of demography that vastly influences politics, economics, social stability, war and peace.
Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam are doctrinally ordained as world conquering expansionist creeds. Which means they have to continuously increase their demography with which comes the geography too. Both religions poach from others through well-oiled multinational conversion machinery.
In regions where Muslims are in a majority, miscegenation laws are applied to discourage marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. Multiple forms of restrictions are placed on the civil liberties of non-Muslims so as to encourage conversions to Islam. In countries where Muslims are in a minority, Islam increases its numbers primarily by means of da’wah, or ‘invitation’, which is a form of proselytisation similar to that adopted by Christian denominations.
This is, however, only a small part of how Islam expands. Across time, cultures and countries, Islam expands by out-procreating other groups.
Just like geography, the number of women is usually limited by nature to roughly 50 per cent of the population. Assuming the death rate to be the same across religions, the growth of a religion’s demography, both in absolute and relative terms, depends on the differential in total fertility rates (TFRs), which translates to the number of women in the reproductive age available in a community.
There have been enough studies on the higher TFRs of Muslim societies. Love jihad, by whatever name it is called, is essentially acquisition of additional wombs by Muslims for increasing their procreation. This also has the effect of destabilising other religions. More than a century ago, Swami Vivekananda observed that every person going out of the Hindu pale is not only a person less, but a potential adversary more. His observation has to be amplified when the outward conversion involves women.
As per the 2011 Census, the sex ratio was 943 females per 1,000 males. Of the total population of about 121 crore in that year, 62.31 crore were males and 58.75 crore females. Thus, there were 3.56 crore more males than females.
Further, out of the total population, about 58 crore were married, excluding those divorced, widowed, etc, of which 29.3 crore were married females and 28.7 crores married males. That there are about 66 lakh more married women than married men suggests that there are many women in polygamous marriages.
From the general mean distribution of Indian population, more than 60 per cent are in the 21-60 age group. Out of 3.56 crore more men than women, about two crore would be in this group, which is also a sexually active age. But they are deprived of marriage due to a skewed sex ratio.
To this number one must add another 66 lakh unmarried men due to the fact that many women may be in polygamous marriages. Such huge gender imbalances in matrimony and the consequent excess of unmarried men in society creates extraordinary social, familial and psychological stress.
The second aspect of religious demography is polygamy, which is legally permitted for Muslims in secular India. There are any number of valid reasons to ban the practice of polygamy. It is baffling how a polity that is wedded to gender equality, and a judiciary that is overzealous in protecting gender equality, allows the evil of polygamy. Given the skewed male-female gender ratio, polygamy could be one driver of love jihad.
Sharia law prohibits marriage or any other form of cohabitational relationships between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. Muslim community strictly enforces it by restricting opportunities for young Muslim women to meet young men from outside their community in social situations, due to which one notices a relatively higher tendency of Muslim girls to drop out of education earlier and participate less in the workforce.
With the disappearance of communal protection of women in non-Muslim societies in the modern period, there is heightened vulnerability. The Church in Kerala has been vocal on this issue for many years. Recently, there have been announcements by some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state governments that they will enact laws to contain love jihad. However, given the nature of our Constitution, any such law will be just as useless, nay counter-productive, as has been the case with the Freedom of Religion Acts enacted by some states.
Odisha and Madhya Pradesh enacted identical Freedom of Religion Acts in 1967 and 1968 respectively, prohibiting conversion by force, inducement and fraud, including threat of divine displeasure and social excommunication. Over a period of time, other states like Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh also enacted similar laws.
As they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. But instead of containing the problem, these laws may actually have helped proselytisation: Firstly, these laws have no impact whatsoever in containing the problem for the simple reason that their approach and design are faulty and inadequate. They prescribe what is called symptomatic treatment, masking or ignoring the underlying etiology or cause.
Secondly, the propaganda machinery of the converting faiths uses these toothless laws to launch vilification campaigns of false victimhood against India, both to intimidate the state machinery as well as to generate more foreign money and sympathy for financing conversion activities.
In spite of such negative experiences, the Uttar Pradesh government has recently promulgated the Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020, which, among other things, criminalises religious conversion for marriage. It is doubtful whether even this ineffective law will survive judicial scrutiny. The recent Allahabad High Court ruling is a pointer to what is in the offing. The High Court said:
We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who out of their own free will and choice are living together peacefully and happily over a year. The courts and the Constitutional courts in particular are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty. Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals.
To understand the difficulties in preventing love jihad or indeed in maintaining the religious demographic balance in India, we need to understand the nature of our Constitution which seeks to establish a direct covenant between individual citizens and the state. The fundamental rights in Part-III of Constitution are essentially about individual rights and do nothing to even acknowledge, let alone protect, collective or group rights.
Further, the Constitution and the systems it created are highly intolerant of all non-state institutions such as family, community, religion, etc. The underlying fear is that any other loyalty may lead to undermining its total control of citizens. In this respect, the Constitution mirrors the typical intolerance of the Abrahamic god who demands total loyalty to himself through his only chosen representative.
As a result, it seeks to destroy any group identity, group loyalty, group assertion, and the instincts of group-preservation. The deleterious effect of this constitutional onslaught is more on the non-Abrahamic religions such as Hinduism, which is a non-congregational open system with no hierarchical religious structures to collectively defend.
Most well-meaning and concerned Hindu intellectuals and leaders not only do not comprehend the nature and source of the problems afflicting Hindu society, but also the Abrahamic constitutional scheme of governance which is loaded against Hinduism and Hindus. Without a root cause analysis and factoring in the existing constitutional provisions, the solutions proffered by them are so half baked that they end up doing more harm to Hindu society than good.
Therefore, unless Part-III, particularly articles 12, 15, 19 and 25 to 30 of Constitution, are amended suitably to remove their anti-Hindu slant, no ‘effective’ law that seeks to protect Hindus and Hinduism can survive judicial scrutiny. Pending such constitutional amendment, state governments can easily remove the underlying primary cause for love jihad, which is polygamy, without even touching the separate personal laws.
Criminal law, including offences relating to marriage, is common to all people of all religions and genders. Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of marrying again while one marriage is subsisting during the lifetime of husband or wife. It reads as:
“494. Marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife:
Whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of it’s taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In order to mitigate the adverse sociological impact of a skewed gender ratio getting aggravated by polygamy, and in consonance with the constitutional principle of religious and gender equality, the words, “in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place” in section 494 IPC may be omitted by amending it. As per Entry No.1 of the Concurrent List of Schedule 7 of the Constitution, both the State and Central governments have concurrent powers to amend the IPC.
Thus, the removal of one of the underlying causes will be far more effective in containing the menace of love jihad than a special law to prevent it. Moreover, it is also in consonance with the religious and gender equality enshrined in and guaranteed by the Constitution.
*The author is a former in-charge Director, CBI. These views are personal.
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