11 MAY 1929, Page 19


[To the Editor of the SeEcrAeoa.] Sm,—Miss Mayo may exaggerate the evils of Child Marriage and the practice of devoting little girls to the service of the gods (and others). She may even hate those concerned, but surely, as the late Bishop of Madras points out in the Preface, there can be no doubt of the evils of both customs. All the best Hindus, including, of course, Mr. Gandhi, admit and denounce them, but so far have failed to reform a religion which not only sanctions but insists on both. That is where East and West differ as to sexual immorality. The Hindu religion sanctions it : all religions in the West denounce it.

I remember a curious example of high caste feeling on this subject in my own district, Tinnevelly, many years ago, when the Governor, Sir M. E. Grant Duff, was on tour, one of the Deputy Magistrates, of thirty years' service (a highly respected Brahmin), asked for a private interview (at which I alone was present), in order to urge on him the repeal of a certain section of the Penal Code which interfered with the religious practice of adopting small girls (of any caste) as dancing girls (prostitutes) for service in the Temples. It had actually been recently enforced in Madura to the consternation of all the Hindu ecclesiastical authorities in the South of India.

I well remember His Excellency's astonishment and per- plexity at such a request from such an authority ; but, as far as I remember, this provision of the Penal Code was never enforced except in that one case, the result of which I never heard or have quite forgotten. Rightly or wrongly, we all (like the Bishop) agreed in not attacking the religion of the country.—I am, Sir, &c. J. B. PENNINGTON, Hon. Sec. Educational Colonies Association, 3 Victoria Street, S.W.