« AnteriorContinua »
Girls are married, as a rule, before they attain their 8th or 9th year—an age when they are utterly incompetent to comprehend the character of the contract they enter into; unmarried maidens of ten or eleven form an exception, the circumstances giving rise to such an exception being the absence of suiters willing to pay the price demanded, coupled with a strong hope on the part of the guardians of girls to realize larger sums by the postponement of the marriage.......
It is thus evident that maiden-owners are determined upon deriving a pecuniary advantage, present or prospective, as the case may
be...... The evil custom of marrying young girls whose ages range from 6 months up to 12 years..... ..obtains among all classes of the people, especially among the Brahmins in Southern India.
The connection existing between the disposal of maidens in marriage to the highest bidders, and slavery, has been strangely overlooked. The practice above alluded to, involves 1st the selling outright of a girl for a pecuniary consideration, 2nd absence of will on the part of the subject, the very elements which enter into the composition of slavery. As pecuniary consideration is generally permitted to over-ride every other, the highest bidder, though he may be subject to grievous mental or bodily defects, is sure to carry the day, in spite of the feeble voice of opposition, raised occasionally on the part of the infant victim.
94. SURGEON MAJOR D. N. PAREKH, CHIEF PHYSICIAN, GOKULDAS TEJPAL HOSPITAL BOMBAY.--I fully and most cordially and actively endorse your views. I am placed in a position where I can be a daily witness to the misery of the children of the poor and of their infant parents, if I might use that expression. I see every day the dire results of early marriages on the constitutions of women and children, who throng my Hospital ............Of all females of the lower classes to be met with in India, the Hindu female is the gentlest, the meekest, the least complaining, and the most unmercifully trodden down creature, and therefore the most deserving of the sympathy of right thinking men.
I consider that, in India, no woman outght to marry under the age of 15, and no man under the age of 20, looking at it in a health point of view. What is good for the individual's health is good for the health of the community, and indirectly beneficial to the State. There is a great deal of sickness and mortality and difficulty in the act of child-birth, due to imperfect consolidation of the bones of the pelvis at the tender ages at which women, in consequence of early marriages, give birth to children. The heads of the children of young mothers are also unduly pressed upon, and so either the children die prematurely, or grow feeble, both in body and mind, and turn out helpless idiots. There is a greater amount of sickness and mortality due to poverty of blood, caused by want of food, the necessary consequence of the struggle for existence; and the greater the number of children, the greater the tax on the physical constitution of the parent, and on the poor purse of the working parent. No sight is more pitiable than that of a young half-starved mother with one child at the breast sucking away her very life, and three or four others worrying away her life ; and such a sight is by no means a rare one ; it is a very common one. No sight more grotesque, but by no means any the less pitiable, therefore, than that of a poor student struggling for university honours, who wanting his thoughts concentrated on his infinitesimal calculus finds them wandering away, and lighting on his baby's teething troubles, and his other children's school fees, or marriage ceremonies. And yet such a sight is not unfamiliar to those who move in Hindu society.
95. P. DESAI.-According to the custom now obtaining amongst us, Hindu parents are often compelled to get their daughters married, when they are scarcely six or seven years of age, to boys of whom they know little or nothing. Shortly after their marriage, they are taken to the homes of their boyhusbands. At about twelve or thirteen they become mothers of one or two sickly children, and their life is then necessarily spent in looking after household affairs, and often in performing, in higher classes, trivial religious duties.
96. Pandit BADRI DUTT Joshi, POLITICAL PENSIONER, ALMORA.—It was scientifically proved by medical men in India, in the days of yore, that infant marriage proves injurious to the physical constitution of both parties, as well as to their progeny.
The other day talking to a native physician in my neighbourhood on this subject, I heard him repeat a sloka (verse) from Soosroot (a work on medicine), stating that up to the age of 25 in man, and 16 in girl, the bones and vital fluids do not reach complete development, and consequently any wasting of the latter before that, should be discouraged. He further told me that Slokas of this nature are found scattered all over works on medicine by Soosroot and others. Besides this, the law books of Manu and Jajnavalk, for whom our Hindus have great respect, and consider them as the highest authorities on the Shastras, do not enjoin early marriage, nor do the Vedas, the most sacred books of the Aryans.
How does it (the Native Press) expect that a native gentleman of 25, weakened by the wears and tears of a couple of wives and half a dozen children, would leave home to go to the North-west frontier or the Soudan, and there command a division fighting with the enemy of Her Majesty the Empress of India ?
I am very sorry to see and hear of many men who don't hesitate to dine at Hôtels, use English hats and pantaloons, English soap, biscuits, and brandy, and thereby lose religion, nationality, money, and respect, and call this reform, which they are spreading in the country. But what would be a real reform, they have thrown into the background, and quite neglected
97. HON'BLE MR. KASHINATH T. TELANG, M.A., L.L.B.Those conclusions may be thus formulated. First that neither caste nor Shastra, as popularly understood, exacts anything more than that girls should not remain unmarried after attaining puberty. Second that neither caste nor Shastra, as popularly understood, has anything to say in the matter of consummation of marriage. And third, that reform is most urgently called for in regard to the time of consummation, and not so much in regard to the time of marriage.
Upon these conclusions, the question arises-If caste and Shas tra are alike out of the way, what is it that stands in the way of the reform here pointed out ? My answer is, that the obstacle is in the family......... The man who wants to initiate this reform finds his difficulties neither in the Shastras, which are only imperfectly, if at all, understood, nor in the caste, which, as such, has not claimed to exercise jurisdction in the matter, but in those dearest and nearest to him, in his family, and among his relations. To many of these, the proposed new departure is distasteful, first, because it is a new departure ; secondly, because it is looked upon as calculated to defer the enjoyment of the great blessing of having a son ; and thirdly, though this perhaps only to a small extent, because it is calculated to interfere with the eclàt of the celebration of the 6 second marriage.”
98. NAVALRAM LAKSHMIKAM, PRINCIPAL RAJKOT TRAINING COLLEGE.- I look upon early marriage as the curse of Aryavarta, which deteriorating its noble race, has contributed so greatly to its complete effacement as a nation from the political world. Its disastrous influences are still at work in almost every family, in one form or another, throughout the length and breadth of Gujarat* at least, as I can testify from my own personal knowledge. The evil is of course more prevalent in towns and among the upper classes, but any where it will be a real phenomenon to see a girl of 14 who is not already married. Generally all classes give away their daughters, in marriage before they have completed their 11th year....
* When I say Gujarat I don't include Kattywar, where the marri. ageable age or both sexes is a little higher; the Rajputs also form a noteworthy exception in many respects.
mon saying “ my children were betrothed while in their cradle yet," is the proud expression of the completely satisfied aspirations of a Gujarati parent. I am afraid of being disbelieved by a foreigner, when I say that sometimes betrothals are made even before the children are born, but such is the actual fact, of which any
can convince himself by a little inquiry at Ahmedabad, or some other place where Kadwa Kunbis ( who have this peculiar custom) are congregated in any large numbers.
99. G. E. WARD Esq., COLLECTOR, JHANSI.—There are probably among those interesed in the cause many barristers and pleaders of ability. It will be a suitable task for them to examine the existing law, so far as it affects the institutions you seek to destroy, and use their efforts to secure justice in individual cases, and to obtain definite rulings upon points which are at all obscure. I have known cases in which the husband of a woman married for the second time, has been refused redress under S. 498 I.P.C. on the ground that the second marriage was not celebrated with the ceremonials prescribed for first marriages. In my opinion, this was a decided error, but the point is one upon which a trained advocate might have much to urge. What I wish to point out is, that when the effect of the existing law has been tested by the action of the courts after a systematic exposition of the arguments best calculated to forward your object, and by the accumulation of specific cases in which you are of opionion that the existing law in any way supports the institutions you condemn, or does not act harmoniously with the wishes of the best informed social reformers, you will be in a far better position than you are now to recommend any change in the law, and at the same time public opinion will have been much influenced in your favour. I trust that your national association for social reform may soon be established, and that it may be truly national.
100. G. H. R. HART Esq., PRIVATE SECRETARY TO H. E. Sir James FERGUSSON, GOVERNOR OF BOMBAY.-Sir James Fergusson's own opinion upon the questions discussed in your papers is that held, he supposes, by every European, that infant