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WESWA Rehabilitation of Women in Prostitution meeting
WESWA Rehabilitation of Women in Prostitution meeting

Legacy of the Devadasi System

Background of hereditary prostitution in Pudukkottai District

India is a country known for its temples. The gods and goddesses were worshipped with dance according to the Indian tradition. To dance regularly in these temples nobody came forward. So to find and get regularly girls for dancing in these temples they introduced a system called "Devadasi System". Devadasi means 'maid-servant of God'. Originally they were provided with houses to stay and lands to earn their livelihood. Thus they were living a pious, devoted and decent life.

But in the course of the time rich land lords, zamindars and even petty kings lured these dancing girls with their money and comforts and involved them in prostitution. Thus they, in the course of the time became property of pleasure for royal and rich people.

As the number of dancing girls increased and as the landlord and zamindari systems were abolished in India after independence these dancing girls were not entertained by these rich and royal people. They stopped dancing in the temples. The original purpose for which this systems was introduced was lost the deviation of the systems gained momentum they become full time prostitutes as they are not used to hard work in the field and used only to comfort. Luxury and pleasure in the past. Now they are available to any one who is ready to pay them. There are available to any one who is ready to pay them. There are 80 families in this place involving in prostitution presently. They are often taken to various towns for prostitution. Many rich people visit them also from towns regularly.

Entry Point
Many government programmes were launched to stop this menace and redeem these women folk from this dehumanizing status. Since proper motivation and follow up are not taken up all these programmes failed. Their felt need was not realized. Planning for alternative income generation programme was not taken up gaining their involvement and participation. There is no facility for counseling and medical care of HIV zero positive persons. So far there has been no public awareness programme on STD and HIV / STD prevention in the project area. The State Government promotes preventive measures like free distribution of condoms without having any checking possibility for its distribution and use, as there is no attitudinal change among the people. No voluntary organization has taken up this issue in the project area.