The parting of ways of the Dharmapuri couple, Divya and Ilavarasan, is causing as much consternation as their marriage did. It has also raised a wide range of questions, from marriage as an institution to the right of the younger generation to choose their life partners.

“From the very first day when her marriage with a Dalit boy came into the limelight, I wondered how this girl would survive the onslaught. My worst fears have come true now because marriage as an institution failed to give any protection to even an ordinary woman,” said writer V. Geetha. She said there was no social protection to those who married outside their caste.

PUCL national general secretary V. Suresh reiterated that it was here that the government had to step in to protect inter-caste marriages, which were instrumental in establishing a casteless society and eradication of untouchability.

“You need an enormous amount of courage to withstand the emotional blackmail from the family and society. The girl lived with her husband for about 10 months and suddenly changed her mind. There is something behind the whole incident,” Mr Suresh said.

Sahitya Akademi winner Su. Venkatesan said, “Love as a concept has been under attack and in the case of Divya and Ilaavarasan, the couple were targeted from all sides.”

Lyricist Vairamuthu said such attacks continued to happen since marriage, as an institution, was inextricably linked to caste, religion and family relationship. “Love marriages will survive only when couples are self-reliant.”

Balu of Advocates Forum for Social Justice and a functionary of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) denied any political conspiracy behind the issue and suggested that to avoid such problems, the role of parents must be highlighted.

“We are not against love marriages as such. We only insist that the parents have a say in the marriage of their children. This will avoid marriages due to infatuation driven by hormonal imbalance at a certain age.”

He suggested that the minimum age for marriage for women be raised to 21 years.

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