Culture

The Devadasi System And How It Turned Into A Sex Trade Industry

In parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the practice of the Devadasi system remains prominent even after its ban in 1988. What is the Devadasi tradition? And why is it still widely practiced?

In parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the practice of the Devadasi system remains prominent even after its ban in 1988. What is the Devadasi tradition? And why is it still widely practiced?

The word Devadasi literally means "servant of God" which is what the tradition honored - the absolute submission of a woman to the Goddess.

The Devadasi system was a practice carried out at large in South India, where women were "married" or dedicated to a goddess. Yellamma, who is otherwise known as Renuka, Jogamma, or Holiyamma is the Goddess these women were devoted to.

The word Devadasi literally means "servant of God" which is what the tradition honored - the absolute submission of a woman to the Goddess.

Girls as young as ten years of age are given away to the deity, and most of these women are from the Dalit, Madiga or Valmiki castes, few of the most underprivileged castes in India. Since these women are married off to a deity, they are deemed ineligible for marriage, which forces them to fend for themselves with very few career options.

But, their families who have been ostracized and cast away from society depend on them to earn an income by begging for alms and asking for food, etc. These women are more often than not, illiterate and end up with jobs like street cleaners or sewage collectors.

While this tradition started off as a simple act of devotion to a deity, it slowly transitioned into a more convoluted practice of sex slavery, and for good reason.

These women ended up with bleak jobs and even bleaker incomes, they cannot earn for their family and marriage is off the table for them, in these times they use what they can make of themselves. Since these women are legally unmarried, they are allowed to have long term or short term partners of their choice but cannot get married to them, so they use this right to their benefit.

These women now sell their bodies and try to earn a stable income for themselves and their families. While a lot of these women are not ashamed of the work they do, most are stuck against their will in this unfair work life.

Just like in most parts of India, daughters are not a blessing when it comes to bringing in a stable income, and in underprivileged classes, this is even more so. When daughters are born in these households, the parents non-consensually marry their daughters off to the goddess in the hopes that it brings in stable incomes through sex work.

The sex work they do is almost strenuous to their bodies, they have almost eight to ten clients per day, earning from 300 to 400 rupees per client. Considering that these women are shunned from society, their client base is also underprivileged men who are scruffy and dire, almost always plagued with STD's.

Eventually, they also give birth to children, which makes it impossible for them to get out of the system, with additional mouths to be fed. On the other hand, giving birth to kids and aging also makes these women less desirable to their clients.

The Devadasi system, along the years, has continued as a secret practice allowing underprivileged women to have the opportunity to earn an income for their families. Rubbed in the face of tradition and religion, the practice seems to have a shelter to take to. Though it is illegal the women of these classes are obliged to take part in it, and for some, it is an unfortunate sex work bond.

The system very evidently needs to be dissolved entirely, with more than just legal reform, as now it only acts as a religious excuse for women to be sold into the sex trade without the veil of stigmatization or shame for the kind of work they do.

 

Culture

The Devadasi System And How It Turned Into A Sex Trade Industry

In parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the practice of the Devadasi system remains prominent even after its ban in 1988. What is the Devadasi tradition? And why is it still widely practiced?

In parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the practice of the Devadasi system remains prominent even after its ban in 1988. What is the Devadasi tradition? And why is it still widely practiced?

The word Devadasi literally means "servant of God" which is what the tradition honored - the absolute submission of a woman to the Goddess.

The Devadasi system was a practice carried out at large in South India, where women were "married" or dedicated to a goddess. Yellamma, who is otherwise known as Renuka, Jogamma, or Holiyamma is the Goddess these women were devoted to.

The word Devadasi literally means "servant of God" which is what the tradition honored - the absolute submission of a woman to the Goddess.

Girls as young as ten years of age are given away to the deity, and most of these women are from the Dalit, Madiga or Valmiki castes, few of the most underprivileged castes in India. Since these women are married off to a deity, they are deemed ineligible for marriage, which forces them to fend for themselves with very few career options.

But, their families who have been ostracized and cast away from society depend on them to earn an income by begging for alms and asking for food, etc. These women are more often than not, illiterate and end up with jobs like street cleaners or sewage collectors.

While this tradition started off as a simple act of devotion to a deity, it slowly transitioned into a more convoluted practice of sex slavery, and for good reason.

These women ended up with bleak jobs and even bleaker incomes, they cannot earn for their family and marriage is off the table for them, in these times they use what they can make of themselves. Since these women are legally unmarried, they are allowed to have long term or short term partners of their choice but cannot get married to them, so they use this right to their benefit.

These women now sell their bodies and try to earn a stable income for themselves and their families. While a lot of these women are not ashamed of the work they do, most are stuck against their will in this unfair work life.

Just like in most parts of India, daughters are not a blessing when it comes to bringing in a stable income, and in underprivileged classes, this is even more so. When daughters are born in these households, the parents non-consensually marry their daughters off to the goddess in the hopes that it brings in stable incomes through sex work.

The sex work they do is almost strenuous to their bodies, they have almost eight to ten clients per day, earning from 300 to 400 rupees per client. Considering that these women are shunned from society, their client base is also underprivileged men who are scruffy and dire, almost always plagued with STD's.

Eventually, they also give birth to children, which makes it impossible for them to get out of the system, with additional mouths to be fed. On the other hand, giving birth to kids and aging also makes these women less desirable to their clients.

The Devadasi system, along the years, has continued as a secret practice allowing underprivileged women to have the opportunity to earn an income for their families. Rubbed in the face of tradition and religion, the practice seems to have a shelter to take to. Though it is illegal the women of these classes are obliged to take part in it, and for some, it is an unfortunate sex work bond.

The system very evidently needs to be dissolved entirely, with more than just legal reform, as now it only acts as a religious excuse for women to be sold into the sex trade without the veil of stigmatization or shame for the kind of work they do.

 

Culture

The Devadasi System And How It Turned Into A Sex Trade Industry

In parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the practice of the Devadasi system remains prominent even after its ban in 1988. What is the Devadasi tradition? And why is it still widely practiced?

In parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the practice of the Devadasi system remains prominent even after its ban in 1988. What is the Devadasi tradition? And why is it still widely practiced?

The word Devadasi literally means "servant of God" which is what the tradition honored - the absolute submission of a woman to the Goddess.

The Devadasi system was a practice carried out at large in South India, where women were "married" or dedicated to a goddess. Yellamma, who is otherwise known as Renuka, Jogamma, or Holiyamma is the Goddess these women were devoted to.

The word Devadasi literally means "servant of God" which is what the tradition honored - the absolute submission of a woman to the Goddess.

Girls as young as ten years of age are given away to the deity, and most of these women are from the Dalit, Madiga or Valmiki castes, few of the most underprivileged castes in India. Since these women are married off to a deity, they are deemed ineligible for marriage, which forces them to fend for themselves with very few career options.

But, their families who have been ostracized and cast away from society depend on them to earn an income by begging for alms and asking for food, etc. These women are more often than not, illiterate and end up with jobs like street cleaners or sewage collectors.

While this tradition started off as a simple act of devotion to a deity, it slowly transitioned into a more convoluted practice of sex slavery, and for good reason.

These women ended up with bleak jobs and even bleaker incomes, they cannot earn for their family and marriage is off the table for them, in these times they use what they can make of themselves. Since these women are legally unmarried, they are allowed to have long term or short term partners of their choice but cannot get married to them, so they use this right to their benefit.

These women now sell their bodies and try to earn a stable income for themselves and their families. While a lot of these women are not ashamed of the work they do, most are stuck against their will in this unfair work life.

Just like in most parts of India, daughters are not a blessing when it comes to bringing in a stable income, and in underprivileged classes, this is even more so. When daughters are born in these households, the parents non-consensually marry their daughters off to the goddess in the hopes that it brings in stable incomes through sex work.

The sex work they do is almost strenuous to their bodies, they have almost eight to ten clients per day, earning from 300 to 400 rupees per client. Considering that these women are shunned from society, their client base is also underprivileged men who are scruffy and dire, almost always plagued with STD's.

Eventually, they also give birth to children, which makes it impossible for them to get out of the system, with additional mouths to be fed. On the other hand, giving birth to kids and aging also makes these women less desirable to their clients.

The Devadasi system, along the years, has continued as a secret practice allowing underprivileged women to have the opportunity to earn an income for their families. Rubbed in the face of tradition and religion, the practice seems to have a shelter to take to. Though it is illegal the women of these classes are obliged to take part in it, and for some, it is an unfortunate sex work bond.

The system very evidently needs to be dissolved entirely, with more than just legal reform, as now it only acts as a religious excuse for women to be sold into the sex trade without the veil of stigmatization or shame for the kind of work they do.

 

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