ANTI-SLAVERY
SOCIETY

FIGHTING SLAVERY TODAY

Child
Hierodulic Servitude
in India and Nepal

Hierodulic child prostitution is a generic term which the Society uses to describe religiously-sanctioned child prostitution, and, specifically, those children engaged in religious cult prostitution known variously as aradhinis, basavis, bhavanis, bhogam-vandhis, devadasis, jjgateens, jogins (or jogatis), kalavanthulas, kudikars, maharis, muralis, natis and thevardiyars in India, and as deukis in Nepal.  Although there are differences between these ancient institutions of cult prostitution, essentially they all involve parents dedicating their little daughters to a Hindu deity.  The reasons for dedication may differ.  The deukis, for instance, were girls who were offered by their parents as a sacrifice to appease the gods, or were purchased from their parents by wealthy worshippers and offered to the gods.

Historically, these girls served as hierodules, or sacred temple slaves or temple dancers, who were engaged by the priests to provide sexual services to male supplicants or male worshippers at the temple.

However, nowadays, this original purpose has gone and, after dedication — usually at the age of 5 to 7 years of age — the child is often deflowered by the priest and then sold to the highest bidder, who keeps her as his child concubine.  When she grows older and loses the bloom of youth, her buyer usually gets rid of her.  The girl then has to work in a brothel which often has a shrine at the door to symbolize her original dedication to Hindu cult prostitution.

The British made efforts to suppress hierodulic child prostitution in India — the Indian Penal Code 1860 made it a criminal offence to procure women or girls for that purpose — and it was on the decline throughout the earlier part of the last century.  However, there has been a recent revival of these institutions in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The material in this report is based on a Mission to South Asia by the Society's Secretary-General.


THE SOCIETY IN ACTION

The Society has embarked upon a program for the suppression of hierodulic child prostitution in India.

THIS IS THE SOCIETY IN ACTION 

 

Links to other pages also dealing hierodulic servitude:

Hierodulic servitude in West Africa


Links to other pages dealing with slavery:

Does slavery still exist?

What is slavery?

Child slavery in South Asia

The West African slave trade

Slavery on the cocoa plantations in West Africa

Odalisques

Rescuing slaves

Slavery Convention 1926

Society's overseas programs in Africa and Asia


Links to pages dealing with other servile conditions falling short of slavery:

Bonded child labor

Servile concubinage

Serfdom

Forced labor


The Society is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. 

SLAVERY SLAVE
TRADE
HUMAN
SACRIFICE

BONDED
LABOR

HIERODULIC
SERVITUDE

TRAFFICKING

CHILD
LABOR

  2003 by the Anti-Slavery Society. The text on any page may be reproduced provided that the source is acknowledged.  This does not apply to photos.