In this episode of Balya Amulya, our guest is Venkatesh, who speaks about children who have been absorbed into the ‘Devadasi’ system. He is currently looking after ‘GOOD – Getting Out Of Devadasi’ system in the Child Welfare Department.
The members of the community are trained for 3 days on how to recognise Devadasi families in the districts of Karnataka. There are a few communities which still believe in and practice this system; the aim is to identify the children who are already in the grip of it, or the children who are at the risk of being involved in it, and to stop and educate them. At present, the department has made nearly 75 ‘Kishori’ groups, each consisting of 15 to 20 children between the ages of 10 and 18. This project is naturally governed by a few sensitive details, including not revealing the identities of the children to the public. “When the research was on, the people questioned us, but the members haven’t revealed that this is a project on the Devadasi system but rather was about children’s education. The children who are in this group have already started questioning the injustice they have suffered. The Devadasi system not only affects the people who are in it, but also their children as they are accorded a very different and a very vulgar reputation in society. A few of the children, after becoming aware of their backgrounds, started hating their mothers, a few came out of their families, and few are resigned to the fact that this is the only choice they have. This, of course, also affects the children mentally.”
The Karnataka Government has recognised this project’s impact. Karnataka State Legal Services Authority Member-Secretary, Hanchate Sanjeev Kumar has also extended his support for the project. He has asked the members to provide a list of things they require to make this project successful and has said that he would ensure all the support to make this happen. He has also spoken about Paralegal volunteers, whose work is to identify people from such backgrounds and to help educate them.
The project today has a dedicated volunteer base. “We still need the support of a few volunteer NGOs. We would request the government to provide protection to these types of children through education. This project has made many things successful, but it is not only about the children getting an education, but it is also about making their parents educated on these issues. These children have to come and speak with the Women and Children’s Welfare Department, media attention needs to be drawn, there are a lot many more things to do.”
Listen in for more!