Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/379

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


CHAPTER XVI.


SOCIAL CONDITION AND CUSTOMS.


THERE is something curious, and—to me at least—painful, in the peculiar aspect of social life in Mexico. Though the Republic has decreed the abolition of peonage throughout Mexico, and made all men equal, at least in theory, before the law, it is powerless to break down the barriers of caste and long continued custom, which makes the woman of Mexico, though theoretically free, practically a slave. Religion has much to answer for in this; and customs as old as a race are hard to eradicate, when religion stands behind them.

The girls of the capital enjoy little of the liberty accorded to the young women of the United States, and really see but little of society until after marriage, if they are so fortunate, or unfortunate, as to ever marry at all. They are generally—I am speaking of the daughters of the wealthy or middle class families—educated in schools under the actual, though not nominal, control of the church—convents in which they were formerly educated having been abolished by law—and the system of education is not, as a rule, what we would consider liberal. They have a natural taste for music, play and sing with great ability, and often show remarkable talent for fine embroidery, wax work, drawing and painting. At home they are models of devotion to their parents, brothers, and sisters. Nowhere else on