Devdasi System: An Ancient Practice or Casteism and Sexism Redefined

  • Abhidha Gupta
  • June 28, 2020

Content :

The Paper makes a deep study into the Devadasi system that exits in India. It mainly deals with the Historical background of devadasi system in India, its present day form and how it violates the basic rights of women and various laws in force. This practice also violates a number of International treaties and conventions for women and child rights like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , Convention on the Elimination on all Forms of Discrimination against Women , Universal Declaration of Human Rights , Convention on the Rights of the Child  and Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography . Devadasi system was an integral part of the Hindu religion in Ancient India. It is system in which a female before reaching the age of puberty is married or dedicated to a temple, temple priest or some local deity. It was a common feature of all temples in Ancient India but continues to exist even today in some parts of India. It was considered a holy practice. The word ‘Devadasi’ is made up of two Sanskrit words ‘Deva’ which means God and ‘Dasi’ meaning a ‘female servant’. It is a system of female prostitution with religious sanctions. Most of the girls who were forced into this practice belonged to low castes such as dalits. They were married off to temple priests and were sexually exploited by them and the rich and affluent zamindars, traders and other men. They were forced into this practice in the name of religion and God, they were made to believe that it is a form of Service to the almighty.In the present times these women have lost their auspicious and sacred status and are forced to live marginalized lives. Their problems are given negligible recognition and require strict enforcement of their social and political rights. This paper makes an attempt to provide suggestion to control this practice and bring about a change in the social outlook of the society.