So, there\’s a new film out about the devadasi: temple prostitution in India in effect.
The devadasis have a multilayered story, a story in which poverty, deprivation and injustice against women is central – but what has happened to them is absolutely an outcome of imperialism and the impact of British rule in India.
Gosh, that\’s interesting.
The first legal initiative to outlaw the devadasi system dates back to the 1934 Bombay Devadasi Protection Act. This act pertained to the Bombay province as it existed in the British Raj. The Bombay Devadasi Protection Act made dedication of women illegal, whether consensual or not. According to this act, marriage by a devadasi was to be considered lawful and valid, and the children from such wedlock were to be treated as legitimate. The Act also laid down grounds for punitive action that could be taken against any person or persons found to be involved in dedications, except the woman who was being dedicated. Those found guilty of such acts could face a year’s imprisonment, a fine, or both. The 1934 Act also provided rules, which were aimed at protecting the interests of the devadasis. Whenever there was a dispute over ownership of land involving a devadasi, the local Collector was expected to intervene.
In 1947, the year of independence, the Madras Devadasi Prevention of Dedication Act outlawed dedication in the southern Madras Presidency.
So imperialism and British rule are responsible for trying but not succeeding in wiping it out then? Amazing what we can still get blamed for isn\’t it?