Imatges de pÓgina

the action of the caste, who cannot sanction any movement of its members in this direction, so long as they are not sure that they would be reciprocated by the other castes. As regards those few people who would not care for the caste, their joining together will confer no good, as they would thereby be merely adding a new caste to the large number that exist. In my opinion, if there is a legislative measure of the kind I propose, all difficulties may be got over. I also think that it would be good, if the legislature makes all contracts of exchanges of girls void and unenforceable.

In cases of grown-up husbands marrying very young girls, the consummation takes place sometimes too early. This leaves a lasting effect on the girl's constitution. I propose that, the definition of the oftence of rape may be so modified as to render intercourse with the wife, before she completes her 12th year, or in the case of her reaching puberty before the completion of the 12th year, before her reching puberty, illegal. The punishment for the consummation between the 10th and 12th year might be lighter than that of consummation when she is under 10



but it is necessary that such a consummation should be declared illegal and punishable.

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36. His HighnESS THE Rao OF Cutch.—I do concur however in Mr. Malabari's suggestion as to moral support being advantageously accorded by the State, with a view to promote the object in view.

37, HIS HIGHNESS THE THAKOR SAHEB OF BHAVNAGAR.—These customs (infant marriage and enforced widowhood) involve the religion of the Hindus, whose feelings are likely to be injured by any forced measures. Consequently I do not think it wise or safe, to have recourse to any of them in such a way as to excite their feelings. To my mind, the remedies for the proposed reforms lie in the voluntary movement adopted by the unanimous voice of the community concerned, and this might only be expected by further spread of education, which will, I believe, make the majority in the various sections to appreciate, themselves, the necessity of any such reforms, as occasions may arise.

38. His HighNESS THE THAKOR SAHIB OF MORVI.-Direct interference of the State by way of legislation will have no salutary results, so long as rigid observances of caste distinctions continue with all their might and main. But, I think, Government can safely and rightly adopt other indirect means suggested by Mr. Malabari in his said notes, and approved of by many, for aiming a blow at the evil.

As to marriages of old men with young girls, the Thakor Sahib wishes for immediate interference. He says “ These marriages which are the primary causes of grievous widowhood, and which add to the number of young widows on one hand, and which discourage widowers from accepting widows however young, beautiful, and noble they may be, as their wives, ought to be stopped by authority.

39. JAYASING RAO, REGENT OF KOLHAPUR.-At this rate the state of things will never improve. Let the so called leaders of society set an example themselves, and the rest are sure to follow.

40. SHANTARAM NARAYEN.-I am then humbly an advocate of legislative interference in the matter of infant marriage. All civilised Governments have dealt with the question of marriage, of the mutual relations between men and women, as one of which the State has a right and is bound to take cognizance. For instance, in Germany, the marriageable age fixed by law for men is 18, and for women 14; in Belgium 18 and 15; in Spain 14 and 12; in France 18 and 15; in Greece 14 and 12; in Hungary (for Protestants) 18 and 16 and (for Catholics) 14 and 12; in Portugal 14 and 12; in Russia 18 and 16; in Saxony 18 and 16; in Switzerland 14 and 12 ; in Austria 14 and 14 respectively.

Even in India, it has been from the ancient times a recognized principle for the law-giver to fix the marriageable

limit of age for both men and women, and Diwan Bahadur Raghunathrao, one of our best Sanskrit scholars and leading social reformers, has shown that according to the Shastras infant marriages, as they now prevail, are not legal, and that they are of modern growth. Then again, the State is bound to protect the rights and interests of minors as their parens patrice. Looking upon the question in this light, I do not see why the Government in India should not make laws on the subject of marriage. It is said that by making such laws the Government, not being an indigenous but an exotic one, would be departing from the principle of religious or social neutrality to which it had wedded itself in the administration of the country. But have not Government abolished Suttee, and legalised the marriage of widows, made laws for the management of religious endowments, fixed the age of majority by means of the Indian Majority Act, rendered the Shesha ceremony punishable under the Indian Penal Code? Some people argue as if the State or Sirkar has not yet interfered with our social customs. What do we witness every day in our Courts of Justice? We have a Hindu Law, it is true, but is not that law involved in confusion, and is it not a fact that our courts are expounding it as best they can, and bringing into vogue, in effect, new adaptations which Hindu lawyers of a bygone age would have probably stared at ? The whole administration of the Hindu law is, in fact, based upon a legal fiction, and it affords a signal example of the fact that our customs are already being regulated by judiciary interference of a sort; and to the Hindu people such interference is as effective as legislative interference, for the Sirkar, whether sitting in the majesty of Justice, or the Sirkar proclaiming laws from the throne, is to the Hindu alike paternal, and may be beld equally liable to be complained against as meddlesome. Those therefore who think that there is no State interference now with our religious practices or social customs, are either not aware of the real state of things, or are ignoring it.

I therefore respectfully submit that, it is the duty of the State and the State alone, to fix a reasonable standard of age


for marriage. The question is as much political as it is social. All civilised governments have so regarded it, and whoever knows anything of Hindu society may rest assured that it will not move in the matter, unless the lead is taken by the State. The nation, I believe, is degenerating in a palpable degree, and since it is not capable of helping itself, it is the duty of the State to send us help from without.

41. H. H. JASWANTSING, THAKORE SAHIB OF LIMBDI.-It (Government) has a right to say that the public service shall not be open to people, who may have been married before a certain age. Such people may be excluded from higher University honours. Local Municipalities may be asked to lend their aid to the good cause, by introducing a system of registration, and the granting of licenses for marriage, under certain restrictions and so on.... It is the female that, in India, directly or indirectly, offers the greatest resistance to the cause of social reform. To train her mind, to prepare it to receive enlightened notions, should be the first care, I think, of every reformer, and much of the difficulty he now feels in his laudable endeavours would be removed. If, therefore, Government, in its parental regard for the interests of its people, renders female education, in a manner, compulsory, as elementary education, I am told, is in England, it will confer a great boon on the people of India.


42. E. E. Lowis, OFFICIATING COMMISSIONER, DACCA DISTRICT.— The Secretary of the People's Association, Burrisaul, states that the Association approve of Mr. Malabari's suggestion that the Educational Department should give a few chapters in its school books, describing the evils of infant marriage in various forms.

43, J. F. K. HEWITT, COMMISSIONER, CHOTA NAGPUR DISTRICT.—What is really wanted is that the people should dearn and know that the Shastras do not enjoin either custom,


and that the priests and leaders of opinion, in the country, and the districts in which they live, are in favour of such custome being abolished. Let this be done by publishing a monthly paper in which these opinions are translated into the vernacular of the District to which the paper is to be sent, and let men of position be called on to declare "for" or "against," and let the names of the former be published. Branch associations should be formed to aid in this work, and every case of a widow marriage, or of first marriages when the ages of the parties were above the limit which the association might fix at which marriages are desirable, sh ould be published under that head, for there is nothing after all like example in such matters. It is the bold ones who first lead the way, the timid ones will then soon follow. The association might include membership on the condition of each member pledging himself to carry on the objects of the association as far as lies in his power, by discouraging infant marriages and encouraging widow marriages. Government might aid the association with funds.

44. KAILASH CHANDRA BHATTACHARJI.—There ouglit to be, in all chief centres of population, associations of guardians pledging themselves to act in concert, for the purpose of raising the limit of marriageable age of girls. Correspondingly there should be associations of boys' guardians also, to promote and co-operate with the former....

Among the priestly castes, there are to be found at present several Pandits of enlightened and liberal views, whose sympathies and co-opertion may be enlisted by a little management, and thus a good deal of orthodox opposition may be warded off, and the fear of social ostracism minimised.

45. MR. BEADON, COLLECTOR OF DINAGPORE.-Government might now help in the growing feeling against these practices. The seed has been sown, the soil was not prepared at the time, and the young plant has raised its head under all the disadvantages of having to contend with the deeply. rooted weeds of prejudice, timidity, caste oppression, and phy.

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