Most Devadasis in state deprived of benefits meant for them: expert

The government has identified 46,660 Devadasis in the state, who receive the monthly honorarium. But the actual number of Devadasis and their children is between two lakh and three lakh.

Pradeep Ramavath of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), who is also the co-ordinator for the Centre for Study of Marginalised Communities, said the benefits were not reaching the Devadasis.

"In a sample survey, we found that nearly 90% of the Devadasis belong to the madiga community (SC). The reservation meant for SCs is not reaching this community as it is usually given to previleged people," he said.

"Even today, young girls are dedicated to temples,  but the ceremony is a low-key affair," Ramavath said. These young girls are later shifted to red-light areas in the cities. He said the survey shows that mothers who have come out of the practice are landless and are working as labourers. Their children face an identity crisis with a stigma attached to them. They find it difficult to reveal their father's name on application forms.

Government officials, including district project officers, held a meeting here on Wednesday to come up with a Devadasi comprehensive draft policy and law. After the draft policy is ready, it will be submitted to the government in January 2018 for approval.

Officials from the Karnataka State Women Development Corporation, along with district officers, discussed the need to have a rehabilitation policy, which includes housing, healthcare, education and jobs to mothers and children from the Devadasi community.

The government came up with the Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act, 1982, abolishing the practice and punishing those who propagate the Devadasi system. However, there has been no policy in place to implement the rehabilitation process.

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