Devadasi

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?

7 thoughts on “Devadasi”

  1. Insane Leftist in the british film industry. Gobsmacked.

    “I could have made a campaigning film with a single emotive message that would generate headlines about evil mothers and a barbaric Hindu tradition”

    Um, yes, but instead you really wanted to slander Britain with a load of made up leftist bollocks to impress your luvvie mates.

  2. everybody born in the uk in the last hundred years up to 13 years ago is a british imperialist – dont you read the guardian?

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    555PPS – “Are you a British Imperialist?”

    Absolutely. Best thing that ever happened to the Indians.

    Although in this case, the very next year, the 1935 Something or other I Can’t Be Arsed to Check Act gave the Bombay Presidency self government and an election the Indian National Congress won. So the British had about two years to actually implement this reform. And that is assuming that the Devadasis did not come under the powers that were granted to elected assemblies under the 1919 Government of India Act that created the so-called “dyarchy” where the British kept control of the military and foreign affairs while giving pretty much everything else to local Indian control.

  4. This smacks of the constant PC harping in British schools these days as to the iniquity of British involvement in the slave trade, whereas any serious student of history could tell you, the salient impact Britain had on it was to abolish it, quite frequently at gunpoint.

    And as many have pointed out, if you absolutely had to be colonised by Europeans, you’d better bloody well hope they spoke English (q.v. Haiti and Barbados, or Mexico and New Mexico for that matter*)

    * New Mexico: like Mexico, but cleaner! (seen on a t-shirt)

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