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If evidence is of any value, I could cite at least ten times more cases of happy unions in early life, some even beyond the dreams of such writers ( as Mr. Malabari). But I refrain. If a healthy mind in a healthy body may be accepted as good evidence, in order to judge of the results of such mrraied life, I could produce the evidence of scores of families over at least 3 generations, producing men able to work at 50, 60 and at ages yet higher. Those who mourn in these days of diseased constitution, or weakened intellects, and perhaps of perverted morals......... ..must seek the causes of such unhappy results in quarters other than those of these early married Hindus, who have been trained under proper family influences.
48. His HIGHNESS THE THAKOR SAHIB OF MORVI.—The evil
consequences resulting both directly and indirectly from infant marriages, are very numerous and disastrous.... Here in our part of the country where the evil is growing as any where else, the most galling of all the results is the growth of sickly generations, and the consequent early old age and grave. These marriages are a stumbling block in the way of study. Of late, I have noticed, with heartfelt regret, several instances, in wich infants that promised to turn out the brightest jewels in their infancy, have had the edges of their intellect and energy blunted, by their being married to brides of equal age at an early age, when they were to find full scope and development. I think there are not, and cannot be, in these days of western civilisation, two opinions as to the enormity of this evil, and that it ought to be put a stop to
An old man of 60 or 70 verging on the grave is married, and that too with impunity at present, to a tender girl of 10 or 12, for sheer sake of money.
What horror is this ?
49. SHANTARAM NARAYEN.-Statistics have been cited to shew that, the customs complained against apply to a limited section of people. I should say to this, in the first place, that even if the evil is limited in extent, that is no reason why it should be tolerated, merely because it does not prevail more largely. In the second place, it should be remembered that, in this country, the lower classes regulate their social procedure by the example of the higher classes. Widow marriages being disallowed among the latter as sinful, the lower classes though excepted from the ban, intuitively as it were learn to look upon it with some prejudice, and in illustration of this, one could mention non-Brahmin communities, among whom widow marriage was allowed and prevailed formerly, but who, within living memory, declared themselves against the custom I must further point out what has struck me all along in noticing the several comments made upon his (Mr. Malbari's) paper that, none of his hostile critics has attempted to show that what he calls an evil is not an evil......... .This is a point which deserves special notice, as showing that, generally speaking, most agree or feel forced to agree, most, that is, of those wbo. are enlightened, that infant marriage and enforced widowhood are evils. That they are...... not only social but economic evils is the best argument that can be used to show that, the State has an interest in mitigating their influence, and in preventing their mischiefs, so far at least as that influence and those mischiefs tend to deteriorate the physical capacities and morality of the communities concerned, and breed.........mischiefs of an economic nature.....
50. JASWANTSING, THAKORE SAHIB OF LIMBDI.-The baneful consequences of infant marriages have begun to be felt, and other circumstances, such as the poverty of the people &c. are, though imperceptibly, helping the cause of reform by the difficulties thrown in the way of such marriages.
SECTION III. BENGAL PRESIDENCY.
51. C.H. TAWNEY, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION.A large body of medical opinion was collected by the late reformer, Babu Keshub Chandra Sen, to the effect that that limit
(i.e. of marriageable age,) should be 14 years, and it is now the law of the land. There seems to be no doubt that, if a Hindu omits to give his daughter in marriage before the age of puberty, he brings damnation upon 3 generations of ancestors. But there seems to be considerable uncertainty as to the definition of the period of puberty......On the whole it seems to be clear:-(1) That according to educated native opinion in Bengal 14 and 20 are the proper ages for the marriage of women and men respectively. (2) That marriages generally take place before these ages. And (3) that such marriages constitute the evil denounced by reformers as infant marriage.
Several students have already banded themselves into associations, and bound themselves by pledges to remain single until they attain a certain age. The influence of educated, parents is tending in the same direction.
52. C. T. METCALFE, C.S.I., COMMISSJONER OF THE ORISSA Division.—In Orissa, the evil is less than in Bengal, for here young children are only betrothed, and a second ceremony takes place when the wife is old enough to cohabit with her husband ; but in Bengal the infant proceeds at once to her future home. Among the Kandaets and Kurrans of Orissa, infant marriage is not practised at all, and girls and boys attain the age of 16 and 20 before they think of marriage. In some places, such as Tajpore, whole communities are to be found, who do not marry till the girls are 16 and the boys are 20.
53. A. SMITH, COMMISSIONER, PRESIDENCY DIVISION.As to the existence of the evils described by him (Mr. Malabari), there can be no doubt. As regards infant marriages, there is a consensus of opinion, as to the limit of marriageable age having been raised, with the progress of education and the widening influence of a healthier public opinion.
54. F. M. HALLIDAY, COMMISSIONER, Patna DIVISION.The evils of early marriage and enforced widowhood are admitted on all hands, but the means proposed for their removal are generally considered to be neither practicable nor desirable.
55. BABU KEDARBSUR Roy.—There are people who, if I may so term it, give their daughters in marriage to the highest bidder, who may be too old to marry a girl of 10 or 12 years of age, and depart this life long ere the girl reaches her mature age.
56. BABU KAILASH CHANDRA BHATTACHARJI, HEAD MASTER, ZILLA SCHOOL, NOAKHALLY.—The whole question of 'infant marriage' turns upon the unanimous injunctions of the Shastras to marry girls before the age of puberty. ......... Generally, the seeking of a bridegroom begins with the girl's slipping into the 7th or 8th year of age, and ordinarily the marriage is consummated with her 10th or 11th year. The feelings of the educated guardians in all communities are against the custom ; but no one is, in his own case, prepared yet to put up with the social ignominy, attaching to the departure from a deep-rooted and time-honour ed custom, enjoined by the Shastras.
In spite of the social degradation that attaches to the selling of brides, the practice is rather common all over Bengal, and cruelly oppresses certain sections of the community,
57. C. N. BARLOW, COMMISSIONEK, BHAGULPUR DiVISION.—Some of the leading gentlemen, belonging to the orthodox party, make a distinction between the two cases, and suggest that the proposals of Mr. Malabari, involving direct interference by the State with infant marriages, which are not inculcated by the Shastras, might be attempted; but they decline to approve of anything being done to assist the remarriage of widows, as they view the prevailing system upon this head as supported by the sanction of religion.
58. BABU PEARY MOHAN SIRCAR.-A Hindu girl generally attains her age of puberty, after she passes her 12th year and before she reaches her 14th ; but there is no knowing when such an event will happen. Consequently a Hindu parent is obliged to marry his daughter, at or before the age of 12.
59. BABU GOPAL CHUNDER MOOKERJEE.—He says " that early marriage cements love from the tender ages of the married people.” In his opinion early marriage in boys leads to no obstruction of their education and progress. To prove this he states that 9/10 ths of the University graduates are led through the hymeneal altar."
60. BABU Hori MOHUN CHANDRA.—He quotes the following statistics from Mr. Bourdillon's report on the census of 1881 in Bengal.
Statement showing, for children from 5 to 9 years of age, the proportion borne by the married and widowed to every 100 children of that age.
Statement showing the number of the married in every 100 persons between 10 and 15 years of age.
Males. Females. Hindus...
9.90 68.59 Christians
4.19 14.87 Buddhists
3.16 23.03 Aboriginals ..
9.55 26.12 All religions