Past in Perspective

“No man’s life, liberty or property are safe 
while the legislature is in session.”
–Gideon Tucker

The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act of 1856 legalised the remarriage of widows in all regions of India that were under the jurisdiction of the East India Company (EIC). Earlier, the remarriage of widows was forbidden to protect the family’s honour and property. The act was drafted by Lord Dalhousie and passed by Lord Canning right before the Indian Rebellion of 1857. This was the first major social reform after the abolition of Sati. It provided the legal safeguards against the loss of certain forms of inheritance for remarrying a Hindu widow. It also especially targeted child widows whose husbands had died before the consummation of their marriage. One of the most prominent campaigners for this change was Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who petitioned the Legislative Council countless times.

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