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Devadasi system still prevalent in State?

NHRC notices to Tamil Nadu, Andhra over reports of the pernicious practice existing in Tiruvallur, Chittoor districts

Published: 26th September 2017 07:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2017 07:24 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh governments over alleged prevalence of the banned Devadasi system in certain pockets of these States.A statement from the commission said it was acting on a complaint and also media reports over 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 brides and 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. They are forced to live in Mathamma temple deemed 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 bring out accounts of women who live as devadasis. Usually, a girl who suffered from chronic illness was “offered” to the God on the promise that if the girl survived, she would become “public property”.

The commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries and the DGPs of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and to the district magistrates and Superintendents of Police of Tiruvallur in Tamil Nadu and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, calling for reports within four weeks.The Commission pointed out that the matter was very serious and if true, amounted to 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”


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