July 19th, 2013
A Light in the Darkness: fighting ritual prostitution in south India.
Before I came to intern at HART I spent four months working for an Indian NGO based in Kolkata. I had been fascinated by India since I was a child. Initially it was the beautiful colours, fabrics and stories which drew me in. Then, as I grew older and found out more about what life was like for the poorest in India, I decided that I wanted to do something to improve their lives.
Whilst I was living and working in India, I experienced the contrasts which exist simultaneously in India. I saw the beauty and colours which had attracted me as a child, and experienced the kindness and generosity of the incredible people I met. But at the same time I saw the horrifying living conditions and degrading occupations, which are just part of everyday life for many of those incredible people. Therefore, on beginning my internship at HART, it was natural that I was drawn to HART’s work in India.
HART works with Operation Mercy in the South of India, far from where I had been working, where they are fighting a system of ritualised prostitution, known as the Devadasi System. Young girls are dedicated to the goddess Yellamma in symbolic ‘marriage’ ceremonies. The girls, excited by the new clothes and attention, have little or no knowledge of the significance of the ceremony. A string of red and white beads are tied around their neck and they irrevocably become Devadasi: maidservants of the deity. This system is illegal, yet it continues to exist. To find out more about this system and HART’s partnership with Operation Mercy, please read my article below.
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