Prostitutes of god (The Independent (UK))
Former Independent journalist Sarah Harris has made a documentary about India's temple prostitutes – Devadasi are young girls who are dedicated to a Hindu deity at a young age and support their families as sex workers.
The first instalment of the four-part exclusively online documentary “Prostitutes of God” goes live today on VBS.tv.
Harris talked to The Independent Online about making the film:
“I first went to India after I left The Independent three years ago. I wanted to run away and do something really different, so I went to volunteer with a charity in southern India which rescues victims of sex trafficking.
“On my very first day there I stumbled into a meeting of Devadasi prostitutes. I was told that they were temple prostitutes, but didn’t have any understanding of what that meant. [...]
“The only thing that has changed since the Devadasi practise was made illegal in 1988 is that the ceremonies have been driven underground. It’s still very common in some parts of India. A Westerner wouldn’t know to look at the girls that they are Devadasi, but Indians know on sight who they are and what they do. Really it comes down to caste. [...]
“Girls from the Madiga caste, otherwise known as the ‘untouchable caste,’ have really limited prospects. They can be agricultural labourers, sewage collectors or prostitutes, essentially. As prostitution is the most lucrative, a lot of Madiga women get into sex work.”