Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/478

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442 Some Matrimonial Problems of

blow on Bakthbhari's jaws, or she might have invited him to a reconciliatory banquet at which arsenic might have played a part.

However, although the custom obtains no legal support, it is impossible to prohibit a young man from giving pecuniary gratification to his would-be father-in-law, or a husband from accepting an inducement to give up his wife in a land where divorce is simple and easy. The difficulty of checking this kind of practice leads to difficulty in inter- fering with more disreputable conduct. Anything in the form of kidnapping or abduction is suppressed, if detected, as sternly as infanticide or suttee, or other practices which India would gladly re-introduce if left alone.

It is a regrettable fact that in the Punjab there is still a regular flow of women, married and unmarried, adult and minor, into areas where the supply is insufficient. The women remain, and cash is taken away, and this disrepu- table traflfic is called by the terrible name of slave-dealing by the police. A number of sections in the Indian Penal Code are directed against it, and altogether the majesty of the law is " up agin it." Like smuggling and bribery, how- ever, it is difficult to suppress, because all the parties con- cerned are, or consider themselves to be, gainers. The purchaser obtains for a moderate price that which is scarce or dear in the local market, and so he is content ; the seller gets his money, and he is content ; and the woman is content enough because she is usually disposed of above her previous station. Hence it is not easy to stop unless, as in the parallel cases of smuggling or bribery, something happens to annoy one or other party to the bargain. As a typical instance, I may give an account of a butcher's wife who left her home in the eastern districts with a Jat Sikh on a tour of discovery. Once in the Western Punjab he broke it to her that she might find a happy permanent home in a well-to-do household if she agreed. She had no objections, and, with the aid of a cattle thief with whom the