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Despite ban, Saundatti’s Devadasi evil flourishes in secret

DC | Naushad Bijapur | November 10, 2013, 12.11 pm IST
BelgaumChief Minister Siddaram­aiah may be keen on bringing in  a law to ban all kinds of superstitious rituals in the state, but the government is still looking on helplessly as the  banned Devadasi system continues to thrive in secret in remote villages. An age-old practice, it inducts girls into the oldest profession in the world in the guise of dedicating them to the service of a deity or temple.
 
An NGO from Athani which has  been instrumental in saving dozens of girls from being drawn into the Devadasi net, say Devadasis are still found  in remote areas of Saundatti. “Several innocent girls are made to perform the  rituals to become Devadasis in their homes to avoid being caught by  the police these days.
 
The girls’ guardians are given the black bead chains  they are supposed to wear in the Kokatnur temple or  Saudatti temple and they present them to the priests for sanctifying. Later, the girls are made to wear the chains to become  Deva­dasis,” said one activist.
 
The secret practice came to light after a 13-year-old girl was  found being forced into the profession in Saundatti in March last year. A family from Dharwad district was caught  carrying out the rituals involved. Acting on a tip-off, officials of the Devdasi Rehabilitation Project and Department of Women  and Child Welfare traced the family in the nick of time . The teen was  rescued and shifted to a remand home in Belgaum for rehabilitation. 
 
Investigation revealed she had been brought from Jogyellappur, Dharwad district to Saundatti along with several other women for the ritual.

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