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Self-Respect Marriages: Challenging Tradition for Equality.



  Sep 29, 2023

What are Self-Respect Marriages?



Definition:

A self-respect marriage (often termed "Suyamariyathai" marriage in Tamil Nadu) is a union between two individuals that is devoid of religious rituals and ceremonies.

Objective:

To challenge traditional norms that uphold the caste system and patriarchal values.

To grant both parties equal status in the marriage, emphasizing the partnership rather than roles defined by tradition.

Features:

No religious rituals or ceremonies.

A simple declaration of marriage, often in the presence of friends, relatives, and legal authorities.

Legal Aspects of Self-Respect Marriages

Initial Legal Framework:

Before the 1960s, these marriages had no legal backing and were often considered invalid.

Hindu Marriage (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 1967:

This Act legalized self-respect marriages in Tamil Nadu. It gave these unions the same legal status as traditional Hindu marriages.

Interplay with Hindu Marriage Act, 1955:

The 1967 amendment acts in conjunction with the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 but overrides it in cases concerning self-respect marriages in Tamil Nadu.

Legal Challenges & Scrutiny:

Despite legal recognition, self-respect marriages still face challenges in courts, questioning their validity and social acceptance.

Why are They Significant?

Gender Equality:
 
Women gain equal legal footing, including rights to property and divorce.

Social Change:
 
Challenges traditional norms, thus pushing society toward a more equitable future.

Caste Barriers:
 
Often, these marriages are inter-caste, helping break down traditional social hierarchies

Legal Evolution:
 
The existence and legal recognition of these marriages indicate the changing gears of the legal system to adapt to social realities.

Understanding self-respect marriages and their legal background is essential to appreciate the broader social and legal changes they represent.


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