The People's Court
The true practice of law is to unite parties riven asunder. Gandhi
The girl sat cross-legged on the ground, a long scarf pulled over her head to hide her face. She was sixteen years old, as was the boy sitting beside her.
She wanted a divorce.
After three years of marriage (the girl said), the boy and his father were mistreating her, making her eat outside the house, and roughing her up. She had had enough.
The man hearing her case was short and stocky, with loose tan clothing and a white kerchief over his hair. He sat at a small wooden table with papers spread on it, in the shade of a large tree at one edge of a raised-earth platform. Before him and to the sides of him on the platform, sitting on the ground and facing him, were about 200adivasis -- tribal people of an aboriginal race found in many parts of India.
The man gently pointed out to the girl that the boy wanted her to return home to him. "Will you go back and try again if he says he won't act that way anymore?"
The girl held firm.
The man pressed her, still gently: "What are your conditions? We can fine him, punish him, anything." But the girl remained unmoved.
Finally the man agreed that the marriage should end.