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Abetment of sexual intercourse prohibited by this or any other law under a penalty shall be deemed abetment of an offence within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code.
In the case of a marriage subject to renunciation under this Act no right to maintenance or residence, nor any claim to money or things of value arises to one of two spouses as against the other, or the property of the other during his or her life, but in the event of the death of either the rights of the other as to inheritance and maintenance shall be the same as if the marriage had not been subject to renunciation.
A widow shall not, by remarrying, incur, with referenee to her property derived from or through her deceased husband or her rights accrued in virtue of her marriage to him, any further or greater forfeiture or disqualification than she would incur by fornication committed with the person with whom she remarries.
Any person who, without her free, express and intelligent consent does any act towards the personal disfigurement of female aged 12 years or upwards, by reason or under pretext of her being a widow, shall be answerable as for a civil injury in such damages as the court may award, provided that nothing herein contained shall be deemed to affect the provisions of the Indian Penal Code or other law in force relating to criminal force or any other offence thereby made punishable.
Whoever by threats, insults or menaces, or suggestions of divine displeasure or supernatural injury, endeavours to bring about or to prevent any marriage, contrary to the legal rights and discretion of the parties concerned, shall be subject to the penalties provided in Sections 506, 507 or 508 of the Indian Penal Code.
109. SIR WILLIAM MUIR.-I have always been strongly of opinion (and I think I expressed the same in the Legislative Council some 20 years ago) that the betrothal or marriage of minors should not be held binding at law unless consummated :--that is—that specific performance of the contract made by
parents or guardians should not be enforced. Possibly court action for damages against these might be allowed. What the form and mode of repudiation should be, or the precise action of one or other of the parties indicating that he or she receded from the contract, would require more careful thought than I have time to give to the subject at present (for I am away from home in the Highlands.)
But beyond such a measure I certainly would not at present go. I agree with very much of what Mr. Melvill says. I do not think that the advocates of further legislation have at all appreciated how impossible it would be to enforce laws such as are advocated, in the present state of habit and feeling. How possibly could the executive spy into the recesses of family life and the Parda. Just think of the terrible handle it would give to enemies of a family and to the Police. I believe that any
such laws would be utterly inoperative excepting in mischief and evil in the existing state of society, and would altogether fail of securing the results you are aiming at. But that is no reason why you should relax your
efforts to reform the national sentiment, and gradually to change its habits. Macte Virtute. Go on in your great work and may God grant you success in it.
110. Right HON'BLE LEONARD COURTNEY, DEPUTY SPEAKER HOUSE OF COMMONS.—Under a more aristocratic system there was greater readiness in imposing our ideas upon others, but whilst the democracy is ready enough to embody its ideas in domestic legislation, it has a real indisposition to govern other communities.
Your first and most difficult task is to influence opinion within India. You have recognized this and have set yourself to the labour, and I heartily wish you god speed in it.
Nevertheless having something of the older imperative temper, and feeling that in India, if anywhere, we have the responsibilities of power, I should like to see attempted such
legislation as Mr. Melvill and my friends Mr. Justice West and Mr. Justice Scott have suggested. Mr. West's draft seems to meet some of the objections Mr. Melvill had foreseen,
CHAPTER V. FACTS ON THE SUBJECT OF ENFORCED
SECTION I. MADRAS PRESIDENCY.
1. KRISHNASWAMI RAO CHIEF JUSTICE TRAVANCORE.-As a rule widowed girls are allowed, until they attain the age of 18 or 20, to retain their locks, wear jewels and flowers, and to have meals, as their more fortunate sisters under coverture. But the strong but silent disapproval with which society looks upon these innocent enjoyments of the unfortunate young widow, and the example of others in her position, make her seek the miseries of widowhood, in preference to the comforts allowed to her by her loving parents and relatives. It is as a concession to the young widow's repeated entreaties, that the parents and relations often consent to the performance of the most melancholy rite of tonsure. I do not deny that there are bigoted men, who in their religious fervour have subjected girls, 7 or 8 years old, to all the miseries of perpetaal widowhood, but their number was never large and is now dwindling. I may even say that such men are now very rare phenomena.
The social ill usage to which Mr. Malabari refers, is always of a negative character, such as refusal direct or indirect, to associate with a married widow or her husband, or her active sympathizers in meals, religious ceremonies, and in social gatherings.
From what has recently passed in Madras in connection with the bulls of excommunication issued by one of the leading muttadipathis one might legitimately infer that priests in the long run would be not disposed to exercise the power of excommunication, if by the exercise of it they would lose a large number of their wealthy disciples....
I need hardly add that both the widow who remarries and her husband will for a long time to come be deserters of their families and that they would, therefore, require support until the innovation becomes popular.
2. C. RAMCHANDRA AIYAR.-In practice, even to this day it is a fact that a betrothed girl is considered unfit and unqualified to accomplish religious ceremonies or join her husband in their performance, before actual consummation of the marriage takes place.
The legislation I have above* proposed will have the immediate effect of putting a stop to the most cruel and heartrending scene of every day's occurrence viz taking the betrothed girl losing her husband to the burning ground on the first day, and again on the 10th day making her wear all her jewels and good clothes and deck her hair with flowers and ornaments as the last day that she can use them or enjoy such luxury in her life, while all this time the unfortunate child is unconscious of the significance of the ceremony. Such a girl has nothing to do with the burning of the body, which is done in a great majority of cases, by the brothers or father of the deceased. Such a girl, however young she may be, is denied the privilege of mixing with the betrothed girls of her age in singing, wearing orna:nents &c., and of doing all that married girls are required to do on occasions of marriage or auspicious ceremonies at home and elsewhere.
ome and elsewhere. Such an infant girl is denied the privilege of going to temples on festive occasious and enjoying the sight of a festival, as other married girls of her age do. The most melancholy scene of all is the so-called widowed infant girl not knowing the reason of exclusion, asking her parents how she had offended them or others, and why she was not treated as a married girl, and the parents then beginning to weep over the misfortune of the girl.
* i.e. that no betrothed girl should be treated as a wife before consummation.
3. S. SUBRAMANIA AIYAR.-There can also be no question of the vast miseries caused by enforced widowhood, but it is hard to believe that an order of things affecting a considerable portion of the female population should have been the outcome of mere caprice of the stronger sex.
4. P. CHENTSAL RA0.—The real difficulty is the fear of excommunication which not only degrades the man excommunicated in the eyes of his fellows, but also puts him to very great inconvenience, since he cannot easily get caste servants and priests for the performance of ceremonies which cannot be given up without loss of caste.
5. M. TILLAINAYAGAM PILLAI, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, MADURA — The hardest heart has felt the evil of widowhood, but it has yielded to custom-a cruel and inhumane custom-that prevails in the caste. I have known instances of respectable men, who were ornaments to the Hindu Society, having met with premature deaths, broken-hearted and unable to bear the misfortune that befell their beloved daughters. A Hindu family with a young widow is in perpetual misery, and gloom prevails in it....
It is gravely asserted by the orthodox Brahmins that a woman becomes a widow by the result of her Karma in the previous births, and that it is a sin to allow her to marry again. This is something like misers. preaching it to be a sin to help the indigent, who by the result of their Karma have been destined to be poor. No amount of argument can convince these men, even if they are really serious.
It is argued by some that though the widows in India are more than double those in Europe, yet the unmarried women in the latter are nearly double those in India............I must ask these gentlemen to consider the difference between the conditions of women leading lives of celibacy of their own accord, enjoying all the innocent comforts and pleasures of life, and those of the Hindu widows who are looked down upon