Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prostitutes of God - Underage Prostitution in India

One of the things we've wanted to do with this blog, and our other social media sites, was use them as a platform that enables our "Divas" to discuss issues that affect your daily lives, and others on which you may have strong opinions you wish to express.

Following this goal, we'd like to call your attention to an issue covered by The Independent, a British media outlet.

India is a rapidly modernizing nation; in many aspects it is on the cutting edge of technology. Undoubtedly it's known for its rich history, culture, and warm, friendly people. So when the issue of underage prostitution is brought up, unlike certain other countries in that area of the world, it's usually not India that first comes to mind.

However, in rural southern India, many anachronistic traditions persist. One of which, is religious prostitution.

Girls from the Madiga caste, otherwise known as the “untouchable caste,” have really limited prospects. They can be agricultural labourers, sewage collectors or prostitutes, essentially. As prostitution is the most lucrative, a lot of Madiga women get into sex work.

Some girls are dedicated to the goddess at age two or three. They won’t actually enter into sex work until they reach puberty at around twelve. The girls most at risk of being dedicated will have grown up in very matriarchal Devadasi communities. There aren’t any men. They don’t have fathers. So there probably is some understanding from a young age that they’re not from traditional families, they don’t have husbands.

The girls probably won’t have a real understanding of the sex work element until what they call their ‘first night’. This is when their virginity is sold to a local man, normally the highest bidder. He might be a local farmer, landowner or businessman. Some of them say, “I was dedicated to the goddess, but I didn’t know this was what was expected.”

You can read the full article here.