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Women in Ritual Slavery- Devadasi, Jogini and Mathamma in Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh, Southern India

Women in Ritual Slavery- Devadasi, Jogini and Mathamma in Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh, Southern India

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Created by Anti-Slavery International, which is committed to eliminating all forms of slavery throughout the world. This booklet examines issues as found in India
Created by Anti-Slavery International, which is committed to eliminating all forms of slavery throughout the world. This booklet examines issues as found in India

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Published by: woodstockwoody on Aug 06, 2011
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01/25/2013

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Women in
Devadasi, Jogini 
and
Mathamma
in Karnataka andAndhra Pradesh, Southern India
Maggie Black
 Anti-Slavery International 2007
ritual slavery 
 
Women in ritual slavery:Devadasi, Joginiand Mathammain Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Southern India
Contents
Introduction to the research project 1
An overview of the practices2Why these practices amount to slavery3
Part I: Situation Analysis7
History and meaning of the practice 7 Variations in the forms of Devadasi8Prevalence of Devadasi10Reasons advanced for dedications and initiations13
Precipitating reasons14
Characteristics of life as a Devadasi15
Inability to marry in a regular way15Partnerships and sexual relations 16Place of abode 16
Means of livelihood 17
Problems of middle and old age 18Income from festival dancing 19
Impacts of becoming Devadasi on girls and women20
Impacts on health 20On education, especially of their children 21Self-image and sense of personal control over life 24
Part II: Response 27
Laws and their enforcement 27Programmes of action 28
Self-help groups29
What do Devadasi andJoginithemselves say? 33 Advocacy on behalf of Devadasiand Jogini35Conclusions and recommendations 35
Part III: The workshop methodology: ‘Assessment, Analysis, Action’ 39
Workshop composition39Workshop resources40Assessment, analysis, actionEmpowerment methodology40Session1: Timelines40Sesion 2: Anaysis of information41Session 3: Cultural session42Sesion 4: Development of action plansSession 5: Ceremony with invited guests
Cover image: Artwork byJoginiwomen depicting the ceremony of the bride being dedicated, in all her finery, to the Goddess. All photographs: Maggie Black and Bhavna Sharma, Anti-Slavery International.
 
Women in ritual slavery:Devadasi, Joginiand Mathammain Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Southern India
Introduction to theresearch project
Map of India
*
The term Devadasi is used here generically to cover all forms of the practice, and used in italics -
Devadasi 
- to denote the specific study group in Karnataka.
Devadasi 
are dedicated to Yellamma, but in some other cases the dedication may be to a different village Goddess or God, or Yellamma under a different name. Other names for dedicated women in locations not studied include
venkatasani, basavi, kudikari, bhavani 
and
 yallamma
. Research in Andhra Pradesh focussed on
 Jogini 
and
Mathamma
, whose initiates are referred to in this report by the terms
 Jogin
and
Matha.
1
www.antislavery.org 
Mathas
(Andhra Pradesh), and as
Devadasis
(Karnataka). This information provides much of the basis for this report. Primary data wascollected using questionnaires (in Telegu andKannada respectively) and focus groupdiscussions. In Andhra Pradesh, the researchtook place in two districts, examining
 Jogini 
inMahbubnagar and
Mathamma
in Chittoor. InKarnataka, research took place in Belgaumdistrict, where the main temple and commercialcomplex for the Goddess Yellamma (the deitymost associated with the practice) is to be found,at Saundatti.
Devadasi 
from Belgaum have for many years been prominent among girls andwomen recruited into the sex trade in nearbyGoa, Mumbai and other large towns.Both partners, with Anti-Slavery Internationalparticipation, also conducted workshops withgroups of 
 Jogini 
and
Devadasi 
respectively. Thesethree-day workshops, one in Mahbubnagar, theother in Gokak, Belgaum, took place inNovember 2006. Their purpose was tosupplement the primary research; expose Anti-Slavery International personnel directly to thepractice and to
 Jogins
and
Devadasi 
themselves;explore with partner NGOs some principles andtechniques for participatory learning andresearch; and enable participants to identifyDuring 2006, Anti-Slavery Internationalundertook a research project into the practiceof ritual sexual slavery or forced religious'marriage'. The custom of 'marrying' girls to adeity, thereby depriving them of the right toordinary marriage and assigning them to sexualexploitation by the deity's priests or devotees,existed in many ancient cultures, including inEurope, the Middle East, West Africa and SouthAsia. In a few settings, this type of ritual slaveryor sexual servitude has continued until thepresent day, including the practice of 
Trokosi 
insome parts of West Africa; and various forms of Devadasi (from the Sanskrit words
deva
meaninggod or goddess and
dasi 
meaning servant)among Hindu populations in southern India andNepal.After consideration, Anti-Slavery Internationaldecided to confine its research to the practice of Devadasi* in southern India. Accordingly, twopartner non-governmental organisations (NGOs)were selected, one in Andhra Pradesh, the other in Karnataka, states where the practice hastraditionally been most entrenched and where,especially in certain districts, the numbers of Devadasi remain high. In Andhra Pradesh, wherethe practice takes various names and formsincluding
 Jogini 
and
Mathamma
, the partner wasSravanti. This NGO is based in Rajahmundry,coastal Andhra Pradesh, and is experienced inworking with victims of commercial sexualexploitation and trafficking, and with advocacyup to state level. In Karnataka, the NGO partner selected was Karnataka Integrated DevelopmentServices (KIDS), an organization based inDharwad, also working with deprived childrenand victims of commercial sexual exploitationand trafficking, mostly in programme services.Both partners undertook a situation analysis,including a research exercise among women andgirls who have been initiated as
 Jogins
and
 AndhraPradeshKarnataka
PakistanChinaBurma
(Myanmar)
Bay of Bengal

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