A consistent feature of the Burmese family has been the freedom of the individual. “The Burmese commoner chose as wife an equal, to be his helpmate; they shared their daily life, its common toil and interest; their children grew up under the care of an equal man, an equal woman, gaining the benefit of a father’s as well as a mother’s example.”1 The Dhammathats spoke of the power of the father over the children whom he might even sell into slavery, of the power of the husband, the lord and master, over his wife. But this power was more true in theory than in practice, and the descriptions of the power bore traces of Hindu law grafted on at random, and “our debt to Hindu law is not inconsederable but its extent can be, and has often been, exaggerated.”;2; Thus it was warned in an early judicial decision that “the notions about patria potestas have changed and are changing; and the present tendency being to confer rights on individuals, the courts should be careful in dealing with the old rights and powers of parents as disclosed in the Dhammathats.”3


Public Life Child Marriage Present Tendency Filial Love Round Table Conference 
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  1. 1.
    Harvey, History of Burma, p. 210.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    E Maung, Expansion of Burmese Buddhist Law, chap. 3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cited by Chan Toon in Principles of Buddhist Law, p. 25.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    Thirkell White, A Civil Servant in Burma, p. 47.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    Jardine in introduction to Sangermano’s The Burmese Empire.Google Scholar
  6. 1.
    Mencius, IV A, 27.Google Scholar
  7. 2.
    Mi Khaing, “People of the Golden Land,” Perspective of Burma, Atlantic Monthly, 1958; also her Burmese Family, Calcutta, 1946, for an intimate account of family life.Google Scholar
  8. 1.
    Daw Mya Sein, “The Women of Burma,” in Perspective of Burma.Google Scholar
  9. 2.
    Burma Round Table Conference, Proceedings, Rangoon, 1932, p. 39.Google Scholar
  10. 3.
    Indian Constitutional Reform, Joint Committee Records, London, 1934, vol. II.Google Scholar
  11. 1.
    ibid., p. 15.Google Scholar
  12. 2.
    Constitutional guarantees of equality may be found in s. 13 which prohibits discrimination; s. 14 which provides for equality of opportunity; s. 15 which guarantees ‘the same pay… for similar work’ as men; s. 76 (4) which gives equal right of vote or candidacy for Parliament.Google Scholar
  13. 3.
    The minimum age of a candidate must be 21, while the voting age is 18. Parliamentary Elections Act, 1948, sections 11 and 23, to be read with s. 74 of the constitution.Google Scholar
  14. 1.
    Kinwunmingyi Digest, II, p. 104-105.Google Scholar
  15. 2.
    ibid., p. 113.Google Scholar
  16. 3.
    ibid., p. 236.Google Scholar
  17. 4.
    ibid., p. 32.Google Scholar
  18. 1.
    The Child Marriage Restraint Act is directed against marriages in which either of the parties is a ‘child’, meaning one who is under 18 if he is a male, or under 14, if she is a female.Google Scholar
  19. 2.
    Kinwunmingyi Digest, II, p. 52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1963

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maung Maung
    • 1
  1. 1.Lincoln’s InnUK

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