HYDERABAD: Notwithstanding the Andhra Pradesh Devadasis (Prohibition and Dedication) Act 1988, which came to force 28 years ago, a lack of proper framework and guidelines has rendered the Act toothless, people from the Jogini community have said here on Wednesday.
Speaking at a media conference in the city,P Eeswaramma who was born to a Jogini is working with the Jogini Vyatireka Mahila Sangham (JVMS) (Women against Jogini system) rued,”Earlier, they would marry off young girls from Scheduled Castes to Gods in the villages. They are officially sex slaves to men of various other castes, forced to offer services when demanded. Today, families have adopted novel ways to keep this practice going.”
It is believed that Jogini practice brings good luck to all those involved in it. “Ammayi bagundi kada, Jogini cheyandi. Varshalu levu, Jogini cheyandi. (The child is good looking, make her a Jogini. There are no rains this year, convert a kid into a Jogini), these are the most common notions surrounding this system,” added Eeswaramma. Hence, to ensure that the law doesn’t come in the way of this practice, girls as young as eight are being married off to an old relative in the same households.
“When we go and intervene, they say that the child fell in love with the man. That man will be at least 50 years old, married and with children,” she further said.
“We are seeking widow pension. We received it for a brief time and after that we started facing some absurd questions from officials. They ask, who is your husband? We tell them we are Joginis, they say, you are married to God. God never dies. You cannot hence, avail the widow pension,” said Narsamma, and broke into tears.