In India, when two people get married who are from different religious backgrounds, there’s a good chance their families will oppose the union. Some may even go to irrational, violent lengths to stop the marriage from happening. They’ll resort to “honor killings,” kidnappings, or harassment in other ways. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough that there are now companies that exist solely to help those couples get married away from the wrath of their families.
NPR’s Lauren Frayer has a fascinating story about how these companies work, what services they offer, and how they manage to keep everything a secret from family members hell-bent on finding the relatives who are escaping their oversight.
One of these companies is called the Love Commandos:
… Since its founding eight years ago, it has helped interfaith and inter-caste couples elope and hide from their families. Founder Sanjoy Sachdev says the group, which has received support from the Indian online dating site Shaadi.com and Swedish tennis star Björn Borg, runs 500 shelters across India.
Clients share household chores while in the Love Commandos’ care, and reimburse the group for fees for the cost of arranging marriage licenses and other services.
Most of the shelters have strict security measures: triple-deadbolt locks, metal detectors, no cellphones allowed. Sachdev says he gets threatening phone calls every day from the parents of those he helps.
“These parents watch movies full of love stories, and when a love couple is separated, they feel sad,” he says. “But when their daughter is in love, they beat — and even kill.“
These companies are popping up because if the couple is caught before marriage, it could mean an unwanted arranged marriage to someone else, a loss of many rights and privileges (including education), and years of being tracked by parents. Women have it far worse than the men.
Some of the groups also counsel family members and assist the couples in other ways after they’ve fled to safety. But the bigger story here is that these groups have to exist because religion and culture are often more powerful than love and respect.
It’s frightening to imagine how any parent could have children, want them to be happy, and then, just as that’s on the verge of happening, set out to destroy everything. It takes kind of brainwashing to justify that kind of thinking. And yet it’s all too common in some parts of the world.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)