In the southern states of India
many women are forced into ritual sex work as ‘Devadasis’ or ‘Joginis’, as they are called in this region. Almost always from the Dalit community, these women are often dedicated to the goddess Yellama as young girls, consigning them to a life as beggars and sex workers, usually once from puberty. They generally live in poverty, are frequently subject to abuse, and are at great risk from sexually transmitted diseases like HIV / AIDs. Often, their children suffer the same fate if girls.
Pratigya operates in a hundred villages in Telangana, in which the practice is still common. By raising awareness of the illegality and dangers of the Jogini system, this project has prevented numerous young girls being dedicated as Joginis, helped other women to leave ritual sex slavery, breaking the cycle.
The project has been successful by identifying and supporting local community leaders – primarily former Joginis – to deliver the awareness programme in their areas, counseling local families against dedications, explaining the various government health and education programmes that are available to them, and engaging in advocacy on behalf of Joginis.
In addition, Pratigya raises awareness on a higher level through media and advocacy work. In particular, our legal team is taking action to challenge the lack of initiative by authorities to enforce existing legislation preventing dedications, and support justice for those who wish to pursue remedy through the courts.
This project is groundbreaking in its approach and will gradually be expanded across Andhra Pradesh and other states, with the aim of breaking the chains of this abhorrent and exploitative system.
Donate directly to fund the Jogini Prevention and Awareness Programme using the following links: