Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/465

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the Western Border of India. 429

together, young men are given the first right to claim their girl cousins free or at an economical rate.

So much as regards the maidens. As to a married woman, there is a nearer parallel to England. If she elopes, the partner in her elopement has frequently to pay damages in the divorce court to the aggrieved husband. The difference on the western Border is that the husband will take damages in advance and give a divorce by consent. As to widows, the position is the absolute inversion of the levirate custom. In that the widow had a right to claim the nearest male relative of her husband. With these people it is the nearest male relative who has the right to claim the widow, whom he can either marry or dispose of. To sum up, the situation among the rude people to whom I refer is that no one allows a female relative over whom by tribal law he has authority to pass from his authority, except for some form of value received. But, as in England various problems arise in connection with the social system, so they arise out of the system to which I refer. The facts already stated may seem simple, but events occur to make them complex. There have been problems in the relations of men and women in all societies from the time that Deuteronomy was written, and before, and my purpose is to present to you examples of some of these problems.

I may, perhaps, explain that the settlement of matri- monial disputes occupies a large share of the time of officials in the Punjab, and that unsettled matters of this kind bring in their train murders, assaults, arsons, rick-burning, etc., and the heat engendered by one crime may continue for generations. It is not, therefore, astonishing that the matter has been of interest to me ever since the days when, as a very young Assistant Commissioner, I nearly sentenced an unlucky wight to imprisonment for abduction of a married lady. This is not a criminal offence here, but in a country where men are more violent in their manners, the silver ointment of the divorce court is not