Two young women from Bengaluru have approached the Madurai District Legal Services Authority, seeking protection from their families who object to their friendship.
The elder of the two women, 22-year-old Veronica, is a college dropout. The younger, 19-year-old Malini, has passed her Class 10 school leaving exam.
Veronica and Malini worked at a Bengaluru supermarket where they became friends.
Initially, their families did not mind, but when the women started staying over at each other's home, the families forbade such proximity.
Both women were told not to speak to each other.
'How can you be friends with that girl? She looks like a boy,' Malini's parents told her. Veronica has short hair.
In June, the women left their homes, but were apprehended by the Tamil Nadu police and sent back to their parents.
The police counselled the respective parents and the young women and asked them to live in harmony.
"But it had no effect on our parents," says Veronica.
The immediate provocation for the women to leave home this time was Veronica's mother's decision to marry her off.
"I don't like this boy she wants me to marry. I don't like any boy. I am not going to marry. I want to be with Malini," says Veronica.
"We have told the girls not to be scared of anybody. We have told them to complete their education and get good jobs," Madurai District Legal Services Authority Secretary Panneerselvam tells Rediff.com
"Once they start earning they don't have to bother about support from others," says Panneerselvam. "They are only friends and there is nothing wrong if they want to be with each other."
The girls currently reside on the Bharathi Kannama Trust's premises. The NGO is operated by a transgender of the same name.
"When they arrived by train in Madurai they were spotted by a good Samaritan who sent them to Bharathi Kannamma," says Panneerselvam. "They are lucky they did not fall into wrong hands."
Bharati Kannamma contacted the Madurai District Legal Services Authority and asked it to help the women.
Veronica and Malini do not want to return to Bengaluru.
"If we go back," says Veronica, "they will keep us apart. We are not going back. We are going to find jobs here and live here."