Devadasi (Devdasi) System - Taboo of Moden India

Devadasi Systems - Background Context

  • From the recent studies it has been found that the “Devadasi System” is still practiced to this day not just in State of Karnataka, but across neighbouring states such as GOA.
  • The “DEVADASI SYSTEM” tradition of medieval period, dedicating or offering girls to the temples at young age, with a hope to receive blessings from Gods.
  • It was heavily condemned and abolished during Indian independence by many leaders and reformers, yet this social taboo managed to survive till date, and is a big dent on Indian society.
  • The “Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act” was enacted and in year 1982. It is more than thirty-six years since since law has been constituted, the state Government of Karnataka, has not formulated the protocols for administering the law.
  • Definition of Devadasi System
    • The religious taboo/practice whereby parents push their daughter, marrying deity or the community temple. This marriage often happens, before these victimise girls reach or about to reach the puberty. Seeing this as opportunity, many group of mafia and bad elements of the society, pushed these young girls into commercial prostitution, having no voice to speak for these girls or negligence of the society because it is social taboo, they remain in those situation for many years or decades before embracing the death. Even though, various state Government has provision in constitution to stop such practices, the practice of Devadasi System still remains entrenched in various parts of the Indian society.


Brief Highlights of the Study

  1. Vulnerable Population: The current Indian society in some sense is cunning, and has more number people (masses) those believe in superstition. Special need children with certain disabilities (physical/mental) are very vulnerable to this practice, specially girls. The primary reason is that the parents are not capable to take care of such childrens due to financial insecurities, social taboo or other seasons. Secondly childrens are easy to target and lack of speech for such children’s makes them vulnerable to Devadasi System. The story goes onto to take ugly turn, these childrens are found to be victim of commercial sex racket, illegal organ trading, child labour and bonded labour practice. Despite the sanctions from communities and NGO activist, the Devadasi Systems unfortunately is still alive.
  2. Reporting of Cases against Devadasi Practice: The cases reported concerning to the custom in state of Karnataka is very low. There are only four cases reported till during the period of 2011 till 2017. The law is on the shelves of the constitution and rarely used, ironically it concentrates on prosecution of the victim and has no solid groundwork for rehabilitation of those affected.
  3. Loopholes in Law (There is always one): However even though victims provide loads of proofs of exploitation, these cases are often linked to the sexual exploitation. Recent legislation such as POCSO Act 2012, and JJ Act 2015 haven’t made any references or taken into account, the form of sexual
  4. Despite sufficient evidence of the prevalence of the practice and its link to sexual exploitation, recent legislations such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act of 2015 have not made any reference to it as a form of sexual oppression of victimized children.
  5. Unethical Trafficking Prevention Law: Very recently India proposed the Unethical Trafficking Prevention Law and Put forward Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018, which did not recognise these dedicated girls (Devadasis) as sufferer of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The State’s incompetence and negligence towards the weaker sections of society fuels the continuation of the Devadasa Systems practice.

Need of the Hour

  1. To enhance the livelihood of the weaker sections of the Indian society.
  2. Creating environment for sustainability and inclusive social and economic development.
  3. Overhauling of the Legislative and devise mechanism for proactive approach of State Govt.

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