Despite the repeated denials by the successive governments, Devadasi system continues to thrive in rural areas of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
According to a report submitted by one man commission headed by Justice Raghunath Rao, the two states together have about 80,000 Devadasi women. The figures are much higher than the number of the AP social welfare commission, which put the figure at 24, 273.
The commission has found that the age-old social menace is prevalent in all districts in both the states.
Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL), Supreme Court had directed the then united AP government to file a report on the condition of Devadasi women. The government gave the task to Justice Raghunath Rao, who visited all the districts and held discussions with all stakeholders including the victims.
Devadasi system is a religious practice in south India mostly in Karnataka and Telangana, and partly in Andhra Pradesh. Parents, mostly of dalit communities, marry’ off their daughters to a local deity or a temple. The girls are forced to perform dances and are subjected to cruel beating. The `marriage’ usually occurs before the girl attains puberty. She is later forced to become a sex worker. This system is known by different names in different areas. Religious beliefs, caste and male domination, and poverty are main reasons behind this social problem.
The National Comission for Women on Sunday convened meeting with women commissions of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, AP and Telangana where the discussed the Devadasi system and how it started. They suggested that the Centre should come out with a legislation banning Devadasis.