'Onnikkan Onnakam' is an initiative by Human Wellness Study Centre, that attempts to provide social, legal and emotional guidance to young couples.

New initiative to help inter-caste inter-faith Kerala couplesImage for representation only
news Initiative Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 12:59

In the aftermath of the murder of Kevin Joseph – killed by his wife’s family days after they got married – a group of people in Kerala have come together to form a collective, in order to provide help to those couples who face resistance and violence from their families. The initiative, called Onnikkan Onnakam (meaning ‘Let’s unite’) has been launched by Human Wellness Study Centre, a collective where people engage in discussions, in order to help such couples.

Many youngsters in Kerala who fall in love outside their religion, caste, or social standing, have faced resistance from their families. While some are forced to let go of their relationship and budge to the demands of their families, some others fight to live a life of their choice. And in many cases, there is violence.

Speaking to TNM, the coordinator of the initiative Anil Jose says that the murder of Kevin Joseph is what triggered the launch of the initiative.

"In the 1970s and 80s, Kerala was a progressive state. We were advancing, leaving behind the shackles of caste and religion. But now, it looks like that we are all walking backwards," Anil says.

Anil wants Onnikkan Onnakam to be a support group for unmarried couples who need help. The collective will meet for the first time on June 24, for a one day session, during which lawyers, psychologists and former police personnel will speak to couples.

"To begin with, these are adults we are talking about. So they should know what their basic rights are. The lawyer will explain all the legal aspects to them – what are their rights, what can they do. The police officers will be able to guide them if they want to approach the police seeking help. A one-on-one session will be held post-noon, in which couples can tell us what exactly they need help in. If they want to move legally, we will help them do so," Anil explains.

He says that the team will also meet the parents of the couples and convince them to support the couple.

The group plans to meet on the 4th Sunday of every month and the meetings will be held across Kerala. So far, Anil says he has received at least 140 calls in a matter of a week.

"For some people, the assurance that they have somebody to back them, will itself be enough. There was a young man who got in touch with us, who said that his girlfriend lived with him during the weekends. But he was unsure whether this was right, although he reiterated that the duo will get married soon. I sent him a news item of the Kerala High Court allowing an unmarried couple to live together outside marriage. He was relieved and now knows he isn't doing anything wrong," Anil shares.

"There's so much that needs to be done," he adds.



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