What is the devdasi system

Devadasi system and temple prostitution abolished, but ...

Although the Devadasi system, and thus temple prostitution, was officially abolished in 1988, it is still practiced in rural areas of India. These are particularly pretty girls from impoverished families, most of whom belong to the casteless (Dalits). They are consecrated to the gods in a temple, where they perform their services and are ultimately sexually abused. They are exposed to this fate without protection and suffer severe trauma from it. Because of their demotion as sex workers, they and their children, who come from different men, are attached to an insurmountable social stigma.

Hope for Sala * thanks to the Kishori self-help groups

Sala * also suffered the bitter fate of many Devadasi women. It belongs to one of the lowest castes and comes from the small village of Virupapura in Karnataka, which is located directly on a major main traffic route. This means that Virupapura is not only an important point of contact for truck drivers stopping in transit. It has also gained notoriety for its trafficking in Devadasi girls and women. The Devadasis appear there as actresses in local theater shows and are forced into prostitution. They suffer unimaginable mental and physical abuse and are socially ostracized on top of that.

SNEHA helps girls to escape the Devadasi system

Sala * was one of them until she was freed from these clutches by our partner organization SNEHA. She now belongs to the Kishori self-help group with 19 other adolescent girls. In the group, the young women learn everything about the background of the Devadasi system, sexual exploitation and child marriages. In a safe environment, they can become aware of their rights and slowly overcome their trauma. The exchange with other affected persons as well as the advice from experienced social workers and psychologists contribute to a stronger self-confidence. Sala * can now go back to school and pursue her future plans. With the support of SNEHA, she was able to bring one of her perpetrators to justice. The proceedings are still ongoing. In the meantime, Sala * is ready to assist other girls and women as a consultant. Her own goal is to become a doctor.

* Name was changed to protect personal rights.