Evils Of Child Marriage, Gender Consciousness And Social Reform Movement In Colonial Bengal

Biswas Supriya
2018 Zenodo  
"I saw my daughter lying on the cot, weltering in blood...........". This statement given in court by Radhamonee Debi, mother of ten or eleven year old Phulmonee Debi, who died of marital rape by her husband in 1890. Her death was widely reported and discussed, and in 1891 Indian reformers persuaded the colonial government to raise the minimum age of consent for married girls to twelve. Because child marriage was the order of the Bengali society and violation of this social practice was
more » ... lly condemned. The marriages of boys and girls were celebrated at an early age. None had the courage to violate the sacred law or Shastric injunction which enjoined the marriage of a girl before the age of puberty. Therefore, child marriage, a harmful custom in our society, produced the most shocking of evils. So, "gender consciousness" and "women question" have had an ambiguous relationship with the nineteenth century social reform movement. Most British colonial and missionary writings viewed the position of women in India before their advent as one of the extreme degradations. In fact, the condition of women in India becomes one of the principle means for the empire to justify its "civilising mission", and to "reform" the "depraved" customs of India. This article intends to highlight the evils of child marriage in the Bengali society and in this respect, growth of gender consciousness by the impact of western education and contemporary periodicals and social reform movement in the colonial Bengal.
doi:10.5281/zenodo.1490554 fatcat:vsnxfyfbt5gbxkm3nkmh46qf3m