Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/475

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the Western Border of India. 439

Sahib to one of the small male relatives of Shadi. It was not a perfect solution, because Umar will come out of jail some day, and, unless placated, will not be deterred by his imprisonment from further violence, if he thinks he has been wronged. However, fourteen years is a long time, and it is something to have kept down murders for the present.

I must make quite clear again before I go further, that even on the Border we do not do more than assist in arriving at a settlement by consent, and that in the Punjab proper we do not uphold these assumed rights of man in any way, A very large portion of the litigation and crime in the Punjab is due to this refusal of ours to uphold the customs of the people in this respect. If a daughter elopes to the equivalent of Gretna Green, we refuse to follow Moses' example and pass a decree for fifty shekels in favour of the father against the husband. Similarly, we do not uphold the right of a man to marry his brother's widow whether she wishes it or not. Moreover, the customs of these tribes who are nominally Muhammedans frequently clash with the Muhammedan law. Custom ordains with some tribes that a widow should simply pass on into her husband's brother's possession with the rest of the property of the deceased. Muhammedan law has enjoined the iddat, a period of three months and ten days, during which re-marriage is illegal after the death of a husband, or after divorce. Consequently, a recalcitrant woman who wishes to run counter to all the traditions of her race may refuse to pass on to her brother-in-law, and our courts in the Punjab will support her, unless the brother-in-law can prove a formal marriage after the period of iddat has elapsed. My hearers will have no doubt that the Government is right in taking this attitude, but what I have to point out is that, wherever law clashes with custom, a community is liable to take other steps to get the better of that law which in its eye is an unfair one. Hence