VIJAYANAGARA: In a chilling reminder that some parts of Karnataka have managed to keep alive inhumane practices like the Devadasi system, a 19-year-old girl from Vijayanagara district was rescued last week, after she tipped off police about her parents’ shocking plan to push her into this tradition.
The district administration and officials from the Devadasi Nirmoolana Kendra, a centre that works under the women and child welfare department, rescued the girl and warned her parents. Despite being banned, the Devadasi system is still in practice in several parts of North Karnataka.
Officials said Manjula (name changed) was in love with a boy from the neighbourhood, but faced stiff opposition from her family. With only two daughters, her parents were apprehensive that their property would be taken away by Manjula and her husband.
Upon learning that her parents were planning the Devadasi rituals, the girl contacted the police. “The girl’s mother is a former devadasi and was keen on pushing her daughter into the practice. Though it’s practised in the name of goddesses, girls become sex slaves with no future. After she contacted police last week, we prepared for a raid. Three days after the raid, her parents finally agreed to get their daughter married.
The case was solved easily as the victim herself informed the police. She was kept in a government facility before her marriage with her friend a few days later,” the official said. Her parents were made to write a letter to police, stating that they will not change their mind.
‘Family worried about property’
“On inquiry, we learnt that the parents were worried about their property being taken away by their daughter and her husband, so they planned the rituals and also contacted a senior devadasi,” the official addedIn several parts of Kalyana Karnataka, the Devadasi system is followed even today.
In Ballari and newly-formed Vijayanagara districts, the administrations are trying hard to eradicate the system. Both these districts have 10,000 registered devadasis who are currently under government rehabilitation. The State government provides them a monthly pension of Rs 1,500. With government agencies keeping an eye on these practices, the system is followed in secret.