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respect opposed to publie polioy........ ..........Matters have practically come to this pass that, secret contracts made with parents or other guardians whereby upon a treaty of marriage they are to receive a compensation or security for promoting a marriage or giving their consent to it, are passed under the guise of gifts or stridhan....
A Hindu Marriage Act would, like the Suttee Act of Lord William Bentinck, be productive of incalculable boon to the country, which will be treasured up in the memory of all the children of the soil as a precious monument of the benigo rule of Her Gracious Majesty the Empress of India....... Were the 12th year declared as the marriageable age of females, and all marriages under that age null and void by applying the principle of XIV. W.R. 403, the country would undoubtedly see the dawning of a better day...... As it is in contemplation to make over registration of deeds and assurances to the Postal Deparment, and as Post offices are within an accessible distance, there could be no difficulty in procuring the attendance of a public officer to witness the marriage, and to take an inventory and enter in a register then and there, signed by the guardians of the married couple when both are infants.
SECTION IV. NOP.TH-WEST PROVINCES AND OUDH, THE PUNJAB, CENTRAL PROVINCES, BURMA, ASSAM, COORG, HYDRABAD
56. C. R. HAWKINS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, AMRITSAR.--I should consider that the state should only show disapproval of such customs (as infant marriage.)-One means of showing this disapproval seems thoroughly practical and inoffensive. The State has certainly a right to prescribe the conditions on which any grant of money is made. Celibacy might be made a condition of all scholarships held by youths
under a certain age. Such a condition would be soon widely known, and specially tend to influence the rising generation. Any measure of this sort would be useful and unobjectionable.
The patronage of the State might be usefully given to societies (for the discouragement of early marriages and encouragement of the marriages of widows.)
57. HONOURABLE D. G. BARKLEY, MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, PUNJAB GOVERNMENT.-Several sug. gestions are made as to modes in which the State might indirectly show its disapproval of infant marriages. The only one of those which does not seem to involve undue interference with a practice which it is not expedient to prohibit by law is that, the Educational Department might draw attention to the evil in its school books. This would be simply assisting in educating public opinion on the subject, and if care were taken to introduce it in a way suitable for school books intended for children who can do nothing themselves to remove the evil until they come to maturer years, it would probably be unobjectionable....
With reference to education of public opinion, Mr. Malabari seems to think that this must be confined to the small proportion of the population who have received elementary education. But this is not necessarily the ca se. After the annexation of the Punjab, much was done to create a public opinion opposed to female infanticide, by public meetings and conferences between leading men. The difficulties to be overcome were thus brought to notice, and efforts were made to remove these difficulties. Many of these arose from marriage customs, such as the feeling that a girl must be married into a superior sub-division of her caste, and in the case of Bedis, descended from the Guru Nanik, the absence of any caste accustumed to receive Bedi girls in marriage, as they had long ceased to be given in marriage. Agreements were come to with a view to reduce or remove these difficulties, and there is no doubt that amongst the Khatris a considerable reform was effected, though it has fallen short of what was hoped for at the time. Probably the great majority of those who took part in this movement, excluding the officials European and native, had no more elementary education than was required for the purpose of keeping accounts.
(Mr. Barkley also suggests, to discourage early consummation of infant marriages, an enactment to be made like Section 37 of Act XV of 1865, which runs as follows "Notwithstanding anything herein before contained, no suit shall be brought in any court to enforce any marriage between Parsis or any contract connected with or arising out of any
such marriage, if at the date of the institution of the suit, the husband shall not have completed the age of 16 years or the wife shall not have completed the age of 14 years.” But he would not pass any such enactment if not desired by a large proportion of Hindus.)
58. Diwan RAMNATH DISTRICT JUDGE, HOSHIARPUR. 1stly. In provinces like Bengal and Bombay the learned classes of several castes and under-castes may be induced to ask the Government to pass an Act similar to the Parsi Marriage Act, and in that Act a provision might be made for the illegality of minor marriages. If an attempt of this kind were made in those provinces, it would partially encourage learned natives of the sister provinces to follow their example.
2ndly. The District and Municipal Board members should be now and then rewarded, who make an example in their own families againgst infant marriage.
3rdly. Pandits and Brahmans, Lambardars and Panches who strive to make people believe that infant marriage is a greater sin than allowing maidens to reach womanhood without marriage, should also be taken special notice of.
4thly. Brahmins be appointed by the Local Boards who would undertake to preach and use their influence for good, on this question.
5thly. Chairs be allowed before officers to the heads of the several tribes who effectually and heartily assist in the reform.
59. KANWAR BIKRAMA SINGH AHLUWALIA, C. S.I. I would propose that parents be allowed to enter into betrothal contracts on behalf of their children, whenever they think fit to do so; but when the marriage takes place it should be registered in some Government office. Betrothals need not be registered, as the death of one of the betrothed parties does not debar the other from being betrothed again and married to some other person. The registration of marriage of boys. under 14, and girls under 12, should be refused as unlawful, but the registration of marriage of boys and girls above the fixed age should be compulsory. But should parents or the married couple wish to have marriages registered after the couple attain the fixed age, they should be required to pay a larger fee by way of penalty, as in the case of unstamped documents produced in evidence. An unregistered marriage when disputed in a court of law should be regarded as inadmissible documentary evidence which is not stamped. This rule of registration will, in all probability, act as a preventive to early marriage.
60. RAI MULRAJ M. A. EXTRA ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER GURDASPUR.-One of the great causes of why the sufferings of humanity in India have not been much removed in this direction, lies in the denational character of our reformers and the
res of reformation which are proposed from time to time. Our reformers attack everything at one and the same time. They assail religion, caste, and all that is dear to the Hindu when they propose any measure of reform, and they invoke the aid of Government in matters in which it should least interfere. The result is that they set the whole country against themselves and their measures of reformation, and make it impossible for the people to consider dispassionately the merits. of the particular measure which is proposed for the good of the nation.
61. CHIEF COMMISSIONER CENTRAL PROVINCES (MR. CROSTHWAITE).-When a large number of Hindu women are educated, infant marriages and enforced widowhood will disappear.
62. CHIEF COMMISSIONER BRITISH BURMA (MR. BERNARD ).-The Government and their officers, by their publications, by their utterances, and by their demeanour, may usefully show that they are on the side of reformers in these matters. Countenance can be shown, small grants of public money can be made, and local facilities can be given to reforming organizations such as Mr. Malabari describes.
63. MR. LUXMON G. RISHI, DEPUTY EDUCATINAL IN8PECTOR, BASIM DISTRICT.-It is most desirable that at least no girl under the age of 12, and no boy under 18 or 20, should be married.......
......It may be enacted, if necessary, that parents wishing to marry their daughter below the age of 12, should deposit in the Government Treasury a certain sum in her name, and for her exclusive use, that would pay an interest sufficient for her maintenance in after life, in case she becomes a widow. This would act as a powerful deterrent to the practice of infant marriage. In the same manner, no parents or guardians should marry a girl to man, or to one who is decidedly far advanced in
age, or when great disparity of ages exists between the would-be couple ; but should they wish to do so the parents or guardians, as being the sacrificers of the unfortunate girl, should be obliged to make a provision similar to the above.
64. GABUSING, SPECIAL MAGISTRATE AKOT..-- It should be enacted that the marriages of Hindu girls should be legally registered, making the contracts under the age 11 and 18 of the bride and bridegroom respectively objectionable, while the unregistered ones not only invaid but subject to some heavy fine.
The marriage of a girl with a man above the age of 40 should also be made subject to the production of a health certificate from licensed medical officers, in addition to the deposi