CHENNAI: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh governments over the alleged prevalence of the banned Devadasi system in certain pockets of these states.
A press statement from the commission said it was acting on a complaint and also media reports over the continuation of the practice "offering" girl children to Goddess Mathamma in the districts of Tiruvallur (Tamil Nadu) and Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh).
"Allegedly, as part of the ritual, the girls are dressed as a bride and once the ceremony is over, their dresses are removed by five boys, virtually leaving them naked. They are denied to live with their
families and have the education. They are forced to live in Mathamma temple deemed to be like a public property and face sexual exploitation," the statement said.
The practice was widely believed to be abandoned decades ago. But still, activists and NGOs had been bringing out accounts of women who live as "Devadasi ".
Usually, girls who suffer from chronic illness were "offered" to god on the promise that if the girl survives, she will become a "public property".
The commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries and the Director Generals of Police of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and to the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of Thiruvallur, Tamil Nadu and Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, calling for reports within four weeks.
The commission pointed out that the matter was very serious and if true, amounts to a violation of human rights including rights to education, life and dignity.
Girl as ‘public property’
As part of the ritual, the girls are dressed as brides
Once the ceremony is over, their dresses are removed by five boys, virtually leaving them naked
They are not allowed to live with their families and have education
The girls are forced to live in Mathamma temple deemed like a public property and face sexual exploitation
Usually, a girl who suffers from chronic illness is “offered” to the God on the promise that if the girl survives, she will become “public property”