Devadasi System- A Blot on Women’ Development in India
Of all the regressive traditions existing in India that restricts the growth of Indian women, Devadasi system is considered to be something easily targetable and eradicated. Prevalent among the three states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the tradition is characterized by the dedication of adolescent girls to certain temples as Gods’ slaves. Unfortunately, the girls, or often their parents have a little say in the whole matter. The girls are mandated to do dance before the Gods and in case of violations, subjected to cruelties likes beating and starvation.
The Devadasi system is also seen as a precursor to rampant incidents of prostitutions centered on the temples. They are made to continue their lives as prostitutes for the upper caste men and the temple priests. With girls often married off to the deity, before they attain puberty, the tradition nubs all the hopes for an equal and all round development. In fact, it is not only the religious beliefs, but a combination of factors like poverty, patriarchy and male domination that dumps the lives of many girls into darkness. According to a report submitted by Jagannath Rao commission in 2013, there are about 80000 of Devadasis in undivided Andhra Pradesh alone.
As per the recent reports of National Commission for Women, at least 2.5 lakh Dalit girls are forced into this, along the Karnataka-Maharashtra border. The Supreme Court of India has earlier come heavy on the administrators of the states where the system prevails, calling it as a national shame. Now the Social Justice Bench of Supreme Court has reiterated its position, indicating that stringent actions are the need of the hour. The tradition is known by other names like Joginis in Medak and Wrangal, Matangi in Nellore, Paravathulu in Karimnagar etc.