Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/464

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

428 Some Matrimonial Problems of

from this deficiency that women are of great value for what is, after all, the main object of mankind's existence, the important sphere of marriage. Now, the Balochis, Pathans, and Jats do not live in the age of civilisation such as we have here, but as strong men armed on the Border, and, till recently, in the Punjab. Men as potential warriors have obtained a predominance, unnatural to our mind, over the other sex. It is sad that the strength that can be put forward to arrest suffragettes can elsewhere be used to dominate over women to the extent of giving absolute power of control over them to their menfolk. It follows that young ladies are never allowed to have a say in their own disposal. They are valued, and no stranger can take an article of value from a person in possession without providing some form of recompense. When, again, he has succeeded in obtaining possession, he is entitled to compensation for any transfer to another, and when he dies his heirs continue to retain possession. In other words, an unmarried girl is disposed of by her father, brother, uncle, cousin, or nearest male relative, — a married woman by her husband on divorce, and a widow by her husband's brother or nearest relation ; and, since the number of women is less than that of men, the value of the former becomes appreciated, and, like all values of importance, can be translated into other terms, that is to say, no girl will be handed over by her father except for cash, an exchange, or, as in the case of a property- less person like Jacob, for services rendered.

It is true that, just as in the case of idolatry, the more refined will talk of symbolical representation, the crude act of a father who takes cash from his son-in-law before giving his daughter in marriage being spoken of as a recompense for the toil and burden of her upbringing. This system also leads to a large number of cousin marriages and inter- breeding to an extent which, if some English savants are to be believed, ought to have exterminated the tribes. As matrimony is an expensive thing, and families should stick