Short essay on Feasibility of Divorce in Primitive Society


Just as the question of the number of parties of the marriage is important, the permanence of the marriage tie is equally important.

It supplies easier basis for the classification of marriage. In many of the lower races, the dissolution of marriage is so easy and frequent that it becomes a question whether the term of marriage is at all applicable.

In some other cases, the marriage bond is an strictly regarded as in the Roman Church. Here again there are no hard and fast rules but we can point out certain tendencies which remain fairly constant. We shall first distinguish the different possibilities of divorce:


1. Divorce may be perfectly free to either party.

2. Divorce may be free to both by mutual consent.

3. Divorce may by absolutely at the will of the husband or the wife.

Again, divorce may be free to one party or both or obtaining the consent of the family, clan or court. Divorce may again be open to either party on certain conditions. These conditions may be infinitely various. Finally, divorce may be wholly forbidden, marriage being in dissolute. In such cases separation may be allowed, but sometimes that too is forbidden.


Marriage is indissoluble among the Andamans, some Papuans of New Guinea at Watubela, at Lampong in Sumatra among the Veddabs of Ceyloneg and in the Roman Church.

Ordinarily, both in the civilized and uncivilized world marriage may be dissolved either at pleasure or under certain condition.

Among uncivilized people divorces is not infrequently free to either party. The man dismisses his wife without ceremony, or injured woman leaves her husband without much ado and runs back to her own relations, or they part with mutual consent.

In the higher stages of primitive civilization, the consolidation of the family under the higher authority of the husband tends to make divorce more difficult. Sometimes it drops almost entirely out of use.


Sometimes with less justice the power of divorce is left to the husband and withheld from the wife. It may at times entirely remain in the hands of the husband. Thus the Hebrew who was dissatisfied with his wife gave her in divorce wife. Sometimes she is wholly prohibited; sometimes she is allowed to remarry with the permission of her former husband.

The customs of uncivilized people to divorce vary so widely that it is very difficult to lay down any generalization about them. It may be said that with a few exceptions mentioned at the beginning of this answer, divorce is generally allowed.

It is, however, generally easier for husbands to get the divorce on easy terms, and very often also the wife, or the two parties by mutual agreement. But it is sometimes restricted to special cases. As the patriarchal system begun to rise and as the marriage by purchase increased in number, divorce tended to be easier to the husband than to the wife.

The altitude of the modern people to divorce is base on the recognition of equality between man woman. In most parties of the world of to-day monogamy is an accepted custom and even though in certain countries marriage is considered as indissoluble generally the divorce is made possible by the invention of the court. It should be noted that divorce is not easy to obtain even if the two parties to the marriage give mutual consent.


In the modern world it is the state that intervenes and divorce require not only the contact of the parties but also the consent of the court. The divorce is granted in case of Adultery, Bigamy, Impotence, Idiocy, Willful desertion, Venereal diseases.

The distinguishing feature of the attitude of the modern people to divorce is that it does not meet out only discriminatory treatment to women. And it looks upon marriage as a partnership. However in countries like America divorces are tending to increase on an alarming rate. The root cause of this unhappy trend is the attitude of giving too much importance to sex in material life and excessive emphasis on the freedom of individual.

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