Imatges de pÓgina

Hindu public opinion among the classes to which the candidates for matriculation belong, has, for some time, been gradually coming to recognize the advisability of keeping boys unmarried till about the age of 17, which is the average age at which boys matriculate.

To marry a girl of 11 or 12 years to an old man of 50, whom it is impossible the girl should like for her husband, with the certain prospect of a life-long widowhood for her after a few years of a distasteful and unhappy married life, is unfeeling cruelty. This wilful and wanton condemnation of an innocent girl to a life of misery comes, in my opinion, within the legitimate scope of law. The best way to deal with the matter would be to render a marriage penal, when the disparity between the ages

of the bridegroom and the bride amounts to 30 years. This will not prevent an old man's marriage with a grown-up widow, but will put a stop to his taking a girl of 12 to wife. Such an enactment will invest with strength the Hindu religious law and respectable Hindu opinion which condemn the practice, but have become powerless, and therefore cannot be reasonably complained of ......

The propsals that he (Mr. Malabari) makes in connection with early marriage, have for their object the raising of the age in the case of boys only. But it is equally important that the age of girls also should be higher. There is no religious objection against the former, but there is against the latter. But the sin that a man incurs by keeping his girl unmarried till after a certain physical occurrence can, according to the Shastras, be wiped off by doing a prescribed penance, which is not heavy, so that the religious objection is not insuperable. What is therefore necessary is to create such a feeling against the marriage of girls before 12, as will embolden parents to keep them unmarried till a later age, and do the prescribed penance.

25. HINDUMAL BAL MUKUND OF Poona.- Voluntary associations may be formed under the leadership of different religious preceptors. I would ssk the Sarvajanik Sabha to

adopt the wise plan of sending expert agents to the different parts of the Presidency, as itinerant preachers, to deliver interesting and impressive addresses.........before large gatherings, and to point out the evils from infant marriage and enforced widowhood.

26. NAGINDAS TULSIDAS.—It is only through the orthodox priests that something can be effectually done, if anything can be done at all. So if Act XV of 1856 be extended, and inter-marriages among the numerous sub-divisions of one large class be encouraged, much relief will be given. At present, such inter-marriages are not illegal, but it is the tyranny of the caste in the shape of excommunication that makes such marriages virtually illegal.

27. LAKHmidas KHIMJI.--This gentleman wants a direct legislative measure for putting down the evil, on the ground that the British Government interfered in putting down evil customs, "found to be incompatable with reason, humanity, good order, or good government in the following instances.” “The practice of Suttie.

Bherav Jap' at Dwarka ( a leap into the sea

from some projecting crags.)
Kasinoo Karval (or being sawn alive into

two at Benares.) being crushed beneath the car of Jagannath buying of male children by Jain Gorjis (or priests) for the purpose of making them disciples. thuggee, sacrificing human beings to Kali

Bhovani. fastening hooks into the bodies of infants and men, and then whirling them through the air, for some time, in fulfilment of a vow

made to the God Khandaba. The prejudice against vaccination.

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I believe that if the marriageable age be fixed at 12 for, the female, and 16 for the male-and, that in any .case the difference between the ages of the bride and bridegroom as regards minors shall not be less than four, and as regards a minor female and a grown-up male, it shall not be more than 15 (the evil would be prevented.)”

28. LALSHANKAR UMIASHANKAR.-I believe the social efforts will be much strengthened by co-operation and moral support of Government in the following particulars :

1. Lessons showing the evils, in various forms, should be introduced in all vernacular text books teaching the 3rd and higher standards,

2. Essays, tracts, and books on the subject should be largely used as prize books.

3. District officers should use their moral influence, and assist the associations in persuading people to introduce the reform; and to express their disapproval, should not attend any infant marriage party or procession.

4. Till 18 years of age, an unmarried boy should be preferred to a married one, in awarding scholarships.

I am also of opinion that, the State should adopt legislative measures to remove this evil, as soon as possible. There are persons who say that, social reform should take place from within, and that the State should not interfere in it, unless essentially necessary. But this applies to social questions that have no direct bearing on the public welfare ........ Even purely social practices when they become detrimental to others, come within the province of legislative action. For instance, custom would allow the use of indecent expressions on Shimga Holidays, but law would stop it. The criterion of legislative assistance is thus, not whether a thing is connected with social reform, but whether it affects public welfare. I believe no reasonable man will deny that the effects of infant marriages on society are disastrous.......

Considering the present State of society, I think, the minimum marriageable age of bridegrooms only should at present be fixed at 18 years by law...............I would therefore suggest some provision like the following in the Minors' Act (Act XX of 1864) which already vests the care of persons of all minors in the Bombay Presidency in Civil Courts.

1. No guardian, whether appointed by the Court or not, shall without written permission of the Civil Court, celebrate the marriage of a male minor before he has completed his

18th year.

2. On the application of a guardian or friend of a male minor, the court, under special circumstances, after recording its reasons, may, permit the marriage before the age prescribed in the above clause.

To make these rules effective, some penalty should be prescribed for those who are concerned in the celebration of a marriage contrary to the law. The real evil in the case of girls is in the early consummation of marriage. This evil is likely to increase when big boys marry infant girls. To remedy this, the age of 10 years mentioned in section 375 of the Indian Penal Code should be raised to 12 years. To receive money for giving a bride is condemned both by Shastras and public opinion. Such a practice should therefore be made penal. This will to a certain extent prevent a young girl being given to a very old man.

29. GOVINDRAO BABAJI Joshi.Some of the persons engaged in the discussion of the subject (early marriage) have already seen sons of their sons. Though such is the state of things, yet it is extremely lamentable that they do not seem to think seriously of making any improvement with regard to this evil custom, in the case of the marriages of their own children.

Nor is the condition of our widows any better.

The educated men of the present day who think it highly desirable that the practice of widow marriage should be introduced among the prohibited classes, while addressing meetings of people, say: "the poor helpless widowed girls are absolutely undone ; their distress and hardship are horrible even to contemplate ; the butcher cuts the throat of an animal but once, and the consequent pain and torture are over in a moment once for all, but the unceasing sufferings of the destitute widows are life-long" and a deal of talk of this kind. Should, however, early widowhood be the lot of one of

*The auspicious their own daughters of tender years, not a single mark of red pow- one of them hesitates to wife off her kunka,* der on the fore. head of married to break her bangles, and get her head shaved. Hindu women. Thus it will be seen that matters have come to a mournful pass.

Why is this difference between our word and deed.

Children in their first endeavous to walk frequently meet with falls, and at such a time, their parents holding the little ones by the hand, teach them to walk. Similarly this country is at present in a helpless state of infancy.

From very ancient times preceding the British rule, the course of Government in the country has been this, that the king shows the way, and the subjects simply follow it. And this is the reason why the people of this country are so much attached to their sovereigns, and pay theia divine reverence. I admit that by the spread of western knowledge among our people, a small portion of them are now beginning to distinguish, in a small measure, between the rights of the crown and the rights of the people. Still we are not yet so far advanced as to act for ourselves in all things. Therefore interference from Government seems desirable to guide us aright.

The wiews of Mr. Byramji M. Malabari on the subject in question are sound and considerate, and, therefore, Government will be pleased to assist us in the way recommended by him.

30. DR. ATMARAM PANDURANG.-If the University could be prevailed upon to withhold from granting prizes and

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