Monthly Archives: April 2012

Complaint Filled to ASCI against EMAMI Advertisement

MASES has been campaigning against the Sexist, Racist Notion in the Emami Advertisment (Emami Cream for Men). Kotravai, founder MASES created a Petition on Change.Org and gained support from People with similar thoughts. The petition has gained about 480 signatures. She also created an invitation on Facebook inviting People to sign the invitation. It has gained about 120 attestations.  Apart from this Ms.Venkadesan Neelakrishnan, Volunteer in MASES did one to one campaign with People in Odisha and got 50 hand written signatures.

Kotravai launched MASES formally on 10th March, 2012 and took the campaign against EMAMI to next level. A huge banner was made and printed in the venue. Many activists and supporters signed on the banner registering their Protest against this advertisement which demeans ‘Femininity’ (the femininity by itself is defined by Men /male chauvinism) and the racist notion in it.

During May, 2011 Kotravai had filled a complaint just with about 21 signatures to ASCI. ASCI did not respond to any of the mails, followups. Hence she restarted the campaign following the frequent telecast of the advertisement in Tamil Channels. Popular Actor Surya has been casted in this advertisement. It is really sad that Actors endorse such products and contents.

Kotravai has re-filed the complaint to ASCI on 24.4.2012. The Complaint Copy & the courier Bill is attached here for reference.

If ASCI fails to respond, she plans to write to I&B Ministry also use RTI and demand answer from ASCI.

Respective Documents, Signature Copies have been couriered to ASCI.

Related Links:

Release Deblina Chakraborty entrapped in UAPA and 6 other social activists

A Petition via to The Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission:

Why This Is Important

We are deeply concerned about the dreadful incidents of barbarous atrocities by the West Bengal government upon the peaceful democratic protest movements of various mass organisations, civil rights groups and individuals opposing the forcible eviction of Nonadanga slum-dwellers in the name of ‘development’ and ‘beautification’ of Kolkata followed by malicious arrests of the social activists and their continued detention and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty, a committed social activist and people’s leader, implicating her in cooked-up charges.

On 8th April 2012, a huge contingent of police arrested 69 demonstrators from the Ruby Hospital crossing of EM Bypass of East Kolkata when they had been protesting against the violent demolition of the Nonadanga slums and forcible eviction of hundreds of populace of that colony on March 30th. All those protesters illegitimately apprehended including women and kids were put in the central lock-Up of the Kolkata police headquarter at Lalbazar for nine hours and cases under section 151 CrPc were slapped on them. In late evening, all the captives were released on PR bond except seven civil rights activists. Those activists kept in confinement were Deblina Chakraborty, Debjani Ghosh, Abhijnan Sarkar, Prof. (Dr.) Partho Sarathi Ray, Dr. Siddhartha Gupta, Samik Chakraborty and Manas Chatterjee. They were produced in the ACJM court of Alipore next day (9 April) and all of them were remanded to police custody till 12th April. They had falsely been charged with a number of stringent non-bailable criminal cases made-up by the police under Sections 141 (unlawful assembly), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (offence committed in prosecution of common objective of disruption), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force on public servant) of Indian Penal Code.

On 12th April, Deblina and all other detainees were sent to jail custody till 26th April after being produced in the court. Surprisingly, in the evening when the defense lawyers had left or were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Deblina Chakraborty in three additional cases—two of which are old cases related to “sedition and waging a war against the state” and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur during the tenure of the former Left Front government. Furthermore, she was tagged in an old murder case under UAPA. The magistrate granted the plea without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. Deblina was taken to Bhabani Bhawan for interrogation and she will be remanded to CID custody till 21st April. The other six captives were sent to Alipore Central Jail.

Deblina was a student of the International Relations Department of Jadavpur University. She left her studies to carry on democratic movements and stood by the side of the people. She was devotedly associated with the Singur Anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata Banerjee to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voices against the formation of SEZs and Chemical hubs under the notorious Salem industrial group, she went there and took part in the people’s heroic struggle launched by the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the ‘Matangini Mahila Samity’ (MMS). The MMS was a women’s forum that fought against patriarchy, against consumption of liquor, against CPI (M) ruffians (harmads), and was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by the gang of Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Ashok Pattanayak-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta. In this land struggle, the TMC, Congress, CPI, SUCI and other political forces also played their part within the BUPC.

The police under the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led left-front regime issued threats to arrest Deblina under the UAPA, but protests from different quarters as also hunger strikes started by her and other activists at College Square thwarted such attempts. The new government under Mamata Banerjee — indubitably more brutal and vindictive– picked up the torn shoes left by her predecessor and completed the process by booking her under this draconian act.

After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee turned her heat against the ongoing peoples’ movements and initiated a slander and intimidation campaign by denouncing the ‘Matangini Mahila Samity’ as a ‘satanic brigade’ to gag democratic dissent and protest menacingly and the police as usual condemned Deblina as a ‘Maoist’ who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will.

Deblina had been with the people’s movement for quite some years, functioning openly and participating in various mass movements that took place from time to time. She was never arrested earlier. Now she has been picked up during her participation in the Nonadanga anti-displacement movement and tagged in that earlier case for which charge-sheets had already been submitted.

Deblina is a dedicated social activist who always fights for justice to the best of her ability and stands by the side of the oppressed people in their struggles for rights and dignity. Such a person has now been entrapped under the UAPA in a most conspiringly and cowardly manner. We are quite apprehensive that the intelligence officials would subject Deblina to brutal mental and physical torture in police custody and send her to prison to languish there for as many years as possible. Should we allow such injustice to be done by this vindictive and cruel chief minister of West Bengal? Deblina has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her.

At this juncture, we appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to condemn and raise their voices of protest against the despotic police action subverting the law and illegitimate arrests of all the social activists and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty on cooked-up charges.

Please demand in the strongest possible terms the immediate acquittal of Deblina Chakraborty and six other prisoners arrested for standing in solidarity with the forcibly evicted people of Nonadanga and raising their voices against injustice.

Please go through the petition and sign, and circulate it among your friends and colleagues as widely as possible.

For more news coverage updated regularly on these incidents please visit the site ‘Sanhati’ :

1) Child spends 9 hours in police lockup, Times of India, 9 April, 2012

2) Nonadanga: 7 in police custody, The Indian Express, 10 April, 2012

3) CID appeals for custodial interrogation of Debolina Chakraborty, Times of India, 13 April, 2012

4) Rights activist with ‘Maoist links’ in CID custody till April 21, The Indian Express, 13 April, 2012–Maoist-links–in-CID-custody-till-April-21/936070/

5) Debolina starts hunger strike in jail, Times of India, 14 April, 2012


to sign the petition click here:

Update from Idinthakarai

Dear all:
The state’s propaganda and witch-hunt has taken a fresh and disturbing turn with an engineered FIR filed by the husband of Vijayapathi Panchayat President and his brother Stalin. Please see links below


I spoke to V. Pushparayan at 1015 a.m. today. According to media reports, a gang instigated by Pushparayan and Udayakumar, attacked and injured Sahayaraj (President’s husband) and Stalin (Sahayaraj’s brother) at 830 p.m. on 14 April, 2012. The above two media reports do not even bother to interview the people accused of this alleged crime. The allegation is made into a fact, as if the reporter had observed the attack.

Here’s the version from Idinthakarai.
1. On Saturday, in the morning, the Struggle Committee received a letter from the Panchayat President making it seem as if the protestors are standing in the way of legitimate functioning and administration of the Panchayat.

2. At between 6 and 7 p.m., Sahayaraj and a few others went to the space that is being used as a public bathing area and toilet by the protestors. Sahayaraj picked up a fight with the women gathered there, shut off the water, locked off access to the toilets, and took away the keys from Mr. Suganthan, a differently abled person. The toilets are actually a women’s toilet constructed specifically for women. The abused the women using vulgar language and Mr. Sahayaraj threatened them saying no woman should use these toilets from Sunday onwards.  Ms. Sahaya Initha, Councillor of 13th ward, who spoke to me on phone said that the toilets were opened this morning after the women threatened to complain to the BDO.

3. As narrated by Sahaya Initha to me over phone:  “There are 450 houses in CASA Nagar. The residents have been purchasing drinking water at Rs. 2.50 per pot. Salt water for other purposes is pumped from a borewell to an overhead tank in the colony. This water is provided to residents for 3 hours every other day. Water has to be stored to meet all purposes other than drinking within these three hours. At around 7.15 p.m. on Saturday, Mr. Sahayaraj accompanied by Stalin, Bosco, Inniyasi, Sagayam and Xavier, went to CASA Nagar, a tsunami rehabilitation colony located about 700 metres from the nuclear plant. They were in a car. They came ready for trouble. They had weapons in their vehicle. Because I’m the councillor, these men came to my house to threaten my husband. All the women gathered and we lay down and blocked them. Sahayaraj then confronted Mr. Ganesan, the person who has the keys to the borewell pump house. Despite our protests, he snatched away the keys from Mr. Ganesan. He said “Now I’ll see what you’ll do for water.” As women, we didn’t want to pick up a fight with these guys as we were apprehensive that they will attack us with the weapons in their possession. This morning, we contacted one Mr. Paul Durai, who had another set of keys, and we got him to open the pump and run it, but only after we threatened to go to the BDO and complain.”

At 8.30 p.m. the same day, Mr. Santhiya, s/o Felix, residing at North Antoniyars St, Idinthakarai, and driver Mr. Livings, s/o Remigius, were returning to Idinthakarai by Vehicle No. TN 72 Q 4323. A car coming in the opposite direction suddenly swerved towards them, narrowly missing a head-on collision, but scraping the car. The occupants of the two vehicles got out. The other vehicle was occupied by Mr. Sahayaraj and Mr. Stalin, his brother. Both were reportedly inebriated. They got out, and thrashed Santhiya and Felix, and reported at the Koodankulam Police Station that they were the victims. Mr. Santhiya and Felix were too afraid to report to the police as any Idinthakarai resident can be arrested on any pretext because of the large number of false cases filed on unknown people.

Complaints about all incidents will be filed by post and email. Sahaya Initha says “The problem is between Sahayaraj and the people who elected his wife. Udaykumar Ayya, Pushparayan Ayya and Father Jesuraj did not elect them and they have nothing to do with our anger. Sahayaraj is upset with us because of the fight we picked up after he snatched the keys to the toilets and borewell pump. The FIR should be filed against us.”

Last night, another incident has happened. Mr. Stalin — Sahayaraj’s brother — owns a large shed which used to house vehicles and cattle. Last night, the cattle and vehicles were removed and the shed was set afire. A 2000 strong dalit community lives near the Shed in the village named Keezh Vijayapathi. The community knows who set it afire, and they plan to file a petition with the police today.

Mrs. Egethin Sahayaraj, the invisible woman president whose husband is the proxy President, was elected on the basis of a poll promise that she will stand with the people against the nuclear power plant. But since 19 March, both the President and her husband have been going back and forth on their promise. Mr. Sahayaraj has tried to provoke the protestors on several occasions and failed. On the day that the Struggle Committee ended its indefinite hunger strike, Mr. Sahayaraj switched on the microphone after the day’s protest was called to an end and began berating the media that was present there. He said that the media was mis-reporting issues and making it appear as if there are no people left in the protest pandal despite the presence of so many thousands. He declared that photographers who go around photographing empty spaces to project the struggle as weak should have their legs broken. This speech was made ostensibly to create disaffection among the media towards the struggle.

Mr. Sahayaraj is also being worked upon by two of his relatives — Mr. Besky and Mr. Stanley — who are reportedly DSPs in the TN Police. One is with the Q branch and another works in Theni district.

– from a forwarded mail from Mee.Dha. Pandian


AIDWA wants ‘indecent’ ad withdrawn – AARTI DHAR (The Hindu)

“Demeaning to women; promotes racist stereotypes equating fairness with beauty”

Outraged over an advertisement of a cosmetic product depicting intimate details of a woman’s body, the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has demanded the Centre’s intervention to withdraw the clip being shown on some television channels and Internet.

In a statement issued here on Monday, the AIDWA has called for immediate action against sponsors of the advertisement for “Clean and Dry Intimate Wash”— a cosmetic product for women claiming to provide “freshness and fairness.”

“Deeply outraged”

“The AIDWA is deeply outraged by the visual depiction which shows the extent of the perversion of the company and the promoters of the ad. This advertisement in the name of personal care shows graphic and intimate details of a woman’s body which is demeaning and derogatory to women. It also promotes racist stereotypes equating fairness with beauty,” the statement said.

The advertisement constitutes an offence under Clause S3 of the Indecent Representation of Women’s Act, Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 along with the relevant rules and regulations, it said.

Demanding that the advertisement be withdrawn immediately, the statement said the association had taken up the matter with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting seeking appropriate action against the advertisers, and the company concerned, as also for the formulation of a regulatory framework to prevent the proliferation of such portrayals of women in the media.

The AIDWA Media Monitoring Committee is filing a complaint against the advertisement and the agency responsible for it with the Advertising Standards Council of India, Shyamali Gupta, the association president said.



எதிர்குரல்: தமிழ் சினிமா சூப் பாடல்களை முன்வைத்து – இளவேனில் அ.பள்ளிபட்டி

டைப்புகளுக்கான இலக்கணங்களும், ஒழுக்கங்களும் உலகெங்கும் உடைத்தெறியப்பட்டு படைபாளிகளுகானா படைப்புவெளி எல்லைகளை கடந்து நிற்கும் இன்றையகாலகட்டத்தில் எதை வேண்டுமெனிலும் யார் வேண்டுமென்றாலும் ஓர் படைப்பாய் உருகொடுக்கலாம். அது ஓவியமோ, இலக்கியமோ, இசையோ, நடனமோ, நாடகமோ இல்லை சமகாலத்தின் மிகப்பெரிய ஆதிக்கம் நிறைந்த கலையான சினிமாவாகவும் இருக்கலாம். ஆனால் எந்த படைப்பையினும் அப்படைபுக்கும், படைப்பாளிக்கும் சமுகம் சார்ந்த அக்கறையும், பொறுப்பும் அவசியம். அதிலும் வெகுசனத்தை எளிதில் சென்று சேரும் சினிமாவுக்கு பொறுப்பு மிகஅதிகம்,மக்களின் மனதிற்குள் எளிதில் சென்றுசேரும் திறன் மற்றகலைகளை காட்டிலும் சினிமாவுக்கு அதிகம், ஆனால் நிஜம் எதிர்திசையில் பயணித்துக்கொண்டிருகிறது, நம் சூழலில் தமிழ் சினிமா படைப்பாளிகள் எத்துனை சமுக அக்கறையோடு படமெடுக்கிறார்கள் என்பது பெரும் கேள்வியே. கலையாய் பார்க்கப்படவேண்டிய, வளர்க்கப்படவேண்டிய ஓர் அமைப்பு அமெரிக்கமைய தாக்குதல்களால் உருவான காலம்தொட்டே மலிவு வியாபாரமாய் மட்டுமே செயல்பட்டு வருகிறது, நம் சமுகத்தின் பெரும் அவலமாகவும் நிற்கிறது. அதிசயமாய் எங்காவது ஒன்று இரண்டு நல்லப்படங்கள் வருவதை தவிர்த்து மற்றவைகள் மலிவு வியாபாரமே.

பெண்கள் மீது தொடுக்கப்படும் அடக்குமுறைகள், கலாச்சார திணிப்புகள், உடலியல் வன்முறைகளைகொண்டே மிகுதியான தமிழ் சினிமாக்கள் முன்னிறுத்தப்படுகின்றன, மக்கள்திலகமும், சூப்பர் ஸ்ட்ராரும் தங்களின் ஒழுக்க அறங்களை பெண்கள் மீதே பெரும்பாலும் திணித்தனர். அவர்களின் நாயகிகள் சமுக ஒழுக்க பிம்பங்களுக்குள் நின்றனர். கணவனே\காதலனே கண்கண்ட தெய்வமாகவும் சித்தரிக்கப்பட்டனர். இது பாகவதர் காலம் தொடங்கி எம்ஜியார், ரஜினி இன்றைய தனுஸ் படங்கள் வரை நீள்கிறது, இப்படியான ஒழுக்க விழுமியங்களை பேசிய அதே படங்களும், நாயகர்களும் பெண்ணுடல் அசைவுகளை வைத்து மாமிச வியாபாரத்தை இன்றுவரை செய்கின்றன. நாயக பின்பத்தை எதிர்துபேசும் பெண்கள் கொடியவர்கலாகவும், ஆண் உடலுக்கு அலைபவர்களாகவும், சமுக அக்கறை அற்றவர்களாக்கவுமே சித்தரிக்கப்பட்டு வருகின்றனர். பெண் எனும் மனிதனை தமிழ் சினிமா இன்றுவரை ஓர் பொருளாகவும்,ஆண்களுக்கு கீழான உயிரக்கவுமே பாவித்துவருகிறது. பெண் பின்பத்தை தமிழ் சினிமா எத்துனை கேவலமாய்  சித்தரிததோ அதே அளவு மோசமாய் சித்தரிக்கப்பட்டு, புனிததலத்தில் நிறுவப்பட்டுள்ள விடயம் காதல். தமிழ் சினிமாவே காதலுக்கு வெற்றி தோல்விகளை கற்று தந்தது, காதலுக்கான மரணங்களை சொல்லிக்கொடுத்தது. காதலை எதார்த்தத்தில் சொல்லமால் ஓர் கணவாய், மாயஜாலமாய் சொல்லித்தந்தது, இங்கும் பாதித்தவர்கள் பெண்களே. காதலில் பிரிந்துப்போன நாயகர்கள் ஆணாதிக்கத்தின் உச்சமாய் காதலியையும், பெண்களையும் கேவலப்படுத்தி பாடுவதென்பது சமிப தமிழ் சினிமாக்களில் வழமையான ஒன்றாகிவிட்டது. அவ்வகை பாடல்களுக்கு வைத்துள்ளபெயர் அபத்தத்தின் உச்சம் “சூப் சாங்”

மயக்கமென்ன படத்தில் வரும் “அடிடா அவளை, உதைடா அவளை” எனும் பாடல், தனுஸ் பாடி பெரும்புகழ் அடைந்த “Why this kolaiveri” எனும் பாடல், கழுகு படத்தில் வரும் “ஆம்மளைக்கும் பொம்பளைக்கும் அவசரம்”, உதயநிதி ஸ்டாலின் நடித்து வெளிவர இருக்கும் படத்தில் வரும் “வேணாம் மச்சான் வேணாம் இந்த பொம்பளை காதல்” இப்படி ஓர் பெரிய பட்டியலே நீண்டுசெல்கிறது. இம்மாதிரியான பாடல்களை நாம் நிராகரிக்கவேண்டிய கட்டாயத்தில் நிற்கிறோம். இதுப்போலான நச்சுக்கள் சமுகத்தில் ஏற்கனவே ஆண்களால் துன்பப்படும் பெண்கள் மீதான ஆண்களின் பார்வை மேலும் மோசமடைய செய்யும்.உண்மை இப்பாடல்களின் வரிகளும் நேர்எதிராய் நிற்கிறது.ஓர் ஆணாய் நான் அறிந்த காதல்களில் பெண்களே ஆண்களை காட்டிலும் அதிகமாய், மிக நேசமாய் காதலிக்கின்றனர் மிகுதியான தருணங்களில் ஆண்கள் ஏமாற்றவே காத்துகிடக்கின்றனர். அநேக பெண்கள் காதலை நிராகரிக்கவும், துறக்கவும் அவர்களின் சமுக சூழல்களும் குடும்பமும் காரனமாய் அமைந்துவிடுகிறது, ஆணாதிக்க சமுகத்தில் ஆண்களுக்கான கட்டுபாடுகளை காட்டிலும் பெண்கள் மீதே கலாசார ஒழுக்கங்கள் திணிக்கப்படுகிறது. ஆனால் இப்பாடல்கள் “வேணாம் மச்சான் வேணாம் இந்த பொம்பளை காதல்” என்று ஒலிகிறது பின்பு ஆண்கள் யாரை காதலிக்கபோகிறார்கள் ? உலகெங்கும் ஓரினை உறவு மட்டுமே நிரம்பியிருந்தால் மனிதயினம் அழிந்துப்போகுமே. கழுகு படத்தில் வரும் “ஆம்மளைகும் பொம்பளைக்கும் அவசரம்” பாடலோ அந்தகால காதல் உண்மையானதாகவும் தோற்றால் காதலர்கள் மரணித்துவிடுவார்கள் என்கிறது, சாவதுதான் நிஜகாதலா ?என்ன ஒரு பிற்போக்கு அரைக்கூவல். இவற்றின் உச்சமாய் பெண்கள் ஆண்களின் பொருளுக்காய் மட்டுமே காதலிப்பதாய் எல்லா பாடல்களும் ஒன்றுசேர ஒலிகிறது. பெண்கள் பொருளுக்காய் ஆண்களை நம்புவது ஆண்கள் உருவாக்கிய சமுகத்தால் கட்டமைகப்பட்டதே, அதே போல் நான் அறிந்தவரையில் எந்த பெண்ணும் ஆண் தான் பணத்தை சிலவு செய்யவேண்டுமென நினைப்பதில்லை நீங்களே முதலில் உங்கள் ஆண் அடையாளத்தை நிலைநாட்ட பணம் சிலவு செய்கின்றிர்கள், எனக்கு கிட்டிய எல்லா தோழிகளும் என் நிலைமையை அறிந்துக்கொண்டு பலசமயங்களில் சோறு போட்டுள்ளனர், எனக்காய் நான் வேண்டிய புத்தகங்களை வாங்கிதந்துள்ளனர், ஆடைகள் வாங்கிதந்துள்ளனர், மது அருந்தவும் காசு கொடுத்துள்ளனர். என் வறுமைக்காய் தன் நகைகளை அடகு வைத்து எனக்கு பணம் கொடுத்த தோழிகளை நான் சொல்லமுடியும். அவர்களுக்காய் நான் என்றும் நன்றிகடன் பட்டவனாய் இருப்பதை தவிர அவர்கள் காலத்தால் செய்த உதவிக்கு என்னால் எந்த கைமாறும் செய்யமுடியாது. அதேபோல் மயக்கமென்ன படத்தில் வரும் “அடிடா அவளை உதைடா அவளை” தன் சக மனிதன் மீது வன்முறையை ஏவிவிட யார் இவர்களுக்கு உரிமைதந்தது.இவர்களை பொறுத்தவரை பெண் ஓர் பொருள் அவளுக்கு தனிப்பட்ட விருப்ப, வெறுப்புகள் இருக்கக் கூடாது. ஆண்கள் எத்துனை பெண்களை நினைத்தும் கைமைதுனம் செய்யலாம், திருமணத்துக்குமுன் இவர்களுடன் ஊர் சுற்ற, படுக்க ஓர் பெண்தேவை. தங்களின் ஒழுக்க பிம்பத்தை சமுகத்தில் பாதுகாக்க யாரையும் தேவடியா என்று சொல்ல தயங்குவதில்லை. ஆனால் இவர்கள் மட்டும் தங்கள் திருமணம் செய்துக்கொள்ள யோனி கிழியாதமனிதனை எதிர்பார்கின்றார்கள்.இப்படி காதல் குறித்தும் பெண் குறித்துமான முட்டாள்தனங்கள் நிரம்பிநிர்கிறது தமிழ் சினிமா

வியாபாரம் எனும் போர்வையில் இவர்கள் எப்படியும் படமெடுக்க துணியும்போதும் நாம் அவற்றை நிராகரிக்கவும் துணிய வேண்டும், நாம் நினைத்துக்கொண்டிருபதைபோல் சினிமா வெறும் பொழுதுபோக்கல்ல மனித மனங்களுக்குள் சென்று மாற்றத்தை வெகு எளிதாய் நிகழ்த்த கூடிய மிகப்பெரும் சக்தி, அதற்கான சமுக கடமைகள் மிகஅதிகம் அதைவிடுத்து சமுகத்தின் நச்சாய் இருக்கும் பட்சத்தில் அவற்றை எதிர்கவேண்டியுது நம் கடமை. மேலே கூறிய அணைத்து பாடல்களையும் முற்றிலும் நிராகரிப்போம், எதிர்ப்பினை பதிவுசெய்வோம்

I & B Ministry Response for a complaint

Dear Friends,

I & B Ministry wants specific time & channel to be mentioned in our complaints.  Hence Pl let me know if the EMAMI Fair & Handsome cream for Men advertisement is appearing in the recent months…. if so what time…because I have not been seeing the advt telecast in past 1 month… or may be I have not been watching T.V so often….


Make mothers first guardians: Panel

NEW DELHI: In a move to empower women, a government panel wants that a mother should be listed as the first guardian for all official purposes instead of a father, arguing that she primarily looks after the children. “Since normally it is the mother who primarily looks after the children, she should be listed as the first guardian ,” the Planning Commission’s Working Group said in its report.

The panel has recommended a review of all laws to make mothers equal guardians of their children. Currently , there is a practice of mentioning the father as the first guardian in all official documents such as school admission forms, birth certificates etc. The group has suggested that all existing regulations and rules ought to be revisited to ensure that the mother’s signature as a guardian is universally accepted in all official records.
The recommendation is part of a slew of measures suggested by the group to make laws more gender sensitive . It also asked the government to revisit laws related to maintenance and guardianship to ensure separated women get adequate maintenance and custody rights over their children.

The suggestion, if accepted , would ensure women’s first right over a child whether she is married or divorced, said a member of the group.

“Once all laws are relooked in light of the recommendations , the women will not be forced by any government or private agencies such as schools or passport offices to mandatorily disclose husbands’ names,” she said. “The existing laws on the issue are archaic and were conceptualized with a patriarchal mindset ,” said another member.

The group, headed by the women and child development secretary, wants to relook at all the laws that do not treat guardianship rights of mother on a par with those of the father. The panel, which argued that family law reform has been neglected, said the laws need to recognize a woman as an equal partner with her husband and her contribution to the household or the productive nature of work that fairer sex do.

The path-breaking recommendations would ensure that mothers have an equal right in care-giving as well as in crucial decision-making processes, financial or otherwise , affecting children’s lives. The law commission in its 83rd report submitted in 1980 had suggested amendment in guardianship laws.

” The Guardians and Wards Act1890 was enacted 90 years ago. At the time, women had scarcely any rights: for them there was only social and legal degradation , material insecurity and other manifestations of dominance and false superiority of men,” it had said.

The commission also recommended to amend Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, to allow the mother the custody of a minor till it is 12 years old. “It is necessary to allow the mother the custody of a child till it attains the age of 12 to prevent the father from using the child as a pawn for securing complete submission of his wife,” the report added.

Devadasi System in Indian Temples – Zoya Zaidi

 Devadasi system is not only exploitation of women, it is the institutionalized exploitation of women; it is the exploitation of Dalits, the lower class of untouchables; it is the religious sanction given to prostitution of helpless economically and socially deprived women; It is the glorification of humiliation of women. Inherent in this system is the fascistic belief that a certain section of human population, the lower caste, is meant to serve the ‘higher caste’s superior men’. Inherent in it is the feudal-lord-temple-priest-nexus, where the priest, already having a psychological hold over the minds of simple people to the point of dictating their way of life, uses his power to give ‘religious sanction’ to the practice by declaring it ‘sacred’, and thus cajole and lure simple minded villagers into this worst form of prostitution.

Devadasi literally means God’s (Dev) female servant (Dasi), where according to the ancient Indian practice, young pre-pubertal girls are ‘married off’, ‘given away’ in matrimony to God or Local religious deity of the temple. These girls are not allowed to marry, as they were supposedly married to the temple. She ‘serves’ the priests and inmates of the temple, and the Zamindars (local land lords) and other men of money and power, in the town and village. The ‘service’ (read sexual satisfaction) given to these men is considered akin to service of God. The Devadasi is dedicated to the service of the temple Deity for life and there is no escape for her. If she wants to escape, the society will not accept her.

The Devadasi system is still flourishing in parts of India, especially in the South and specifically in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Ironically, these are the techno-savvy states now synonymous with Indian progress in the global market.

If you take the beautiful country road from Dharwad, Karnataka, you will reach the small temple village of Saundatti in South India. It is in this village that the Devadasitradition, one of the most criticized forms of prostitution in India (1), is still practiced. Despite the governmental ban, hundreds of girls are secretly dedicated to GoddessYellammaevery year.

There are more than 450,000 Devadasies trapped in this form of prostitution, deified and glorified by the heinous religious sanctions. According to the 1934 Devadasi Security Act, this practice is banned in India. This ban was reinforced again in 1980s but the law is broken every day. Poverty and ‘Untouchablity’ contribute to the persistence of this terrible practice.

 Continuing Practice of Dedicating Dalits as Devadasies

A report commissioned by the National Commission for Women (NCW) in India reveals the shocking reality of how thousands of Dalit women continue to be forced into the Devadasi system in several states of India. Estimates suggest that girls dedicated to temples in the Maharashtra-Karnataka border area number over 250,000 and are all from the Dalit community of untouchables. More than half of the Devadasies become prostitutes. (2)

According to a survey carried out among 375 Devadasies by the Joint Women’s Programme, Bangalore for the NCW, 63.6 per cent of young girls were forced into Devadasi system due to custom, while 38 per cent reported that their families had a history of Devadasies. The survey pointed out that Devadasi system is more prevalent among three Scheduled Caste communities – Holers, Madars and Samgars in Karnataka. Nearly 40 per cent of them join the flesh trade in cities and the rest are involved in their respective villages. A Devadasi, in a way, is considered “public property” in the village. Devadasies who do not become prostitutes struggle to survive as agricultural labourers or maidservants.

Most Devadasies are single. However, 65 per cent of the Devadasies were associated with a patron. About 95.2 per cent have children. And among those with children, more than 95 per cent could not register the names of their patrons (as the fathers of their children) in school admission records. The overwhelming majority of Devadasies (95 per cent) earn less than Rs 1,000 a month. (3)

What is in a name?

 In Andhra Pradesh these Devadasies are called Joginis, while in Jejuri in Maharashtra they are called Muralis. They are known by different names in different areas. Jogan Shankar gives the names by which they are known in various parts, such as Maharis in Kerala, Natis in Assam, and Basavis in Karnataka. In Goa they are called `Bhavanis’, and `Kudikar’ on the West-Coast, `Bhogam-Vandhi’ or `Jogin’ in Andhra Pradesh, Thevardiyar’ in Tamil Nadu, `Murali’, and ‘Jogateen’ and ‘Aradhini’ in Maharashtra. In Karnataka, old Devadasies are called as `Jogati’ and young Devadasies as `Basavi’. The term `Basavi’ refers to feminine form of `Basava’ a bull which roams the village at will without any restriction. Hence `Basavi’ alludes to the foot loose position of the woman. (4)

Genesis and growth of Devadasi system

There are many opinions about the genesis and growth of this system. For a comprehensive understanding of the dominant schools of thoughts, many factors have to be taken into consideration while trying to trace its origin and development. Factors like religious beliefs, caste system, male domination and economic stress have been recognized as the stimulants behind the perpetuation of this phenomenon.

The beginning can perhaps be mapped out in the inscription found in temples. The word Emperumandiyar which was used in the sense of Vaishnavas before 966 A.D. got the meaning of dancing girls, attached to Vishnu temples, in inscriptions of about 1230-1240 A.D. in the time of Raja Raya III. [Raghavacharya: I, 118]. In many quarters the emergence of the Devadasies has been linked to the downfall of Buddhism in India that the Devadasies were Buddhist nuns can be deduced from many evidences: They are unknown to ancient India. Jaatakas, Kautillya or Vatsayana do not mention them, but later Puranas found them useful. The system started only after the fall of Buddhism and records about them start appearing around 1000 A.D. [Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosh, IV, 448]. It is viewed that the Devadasies are the Buddhist nuns who were degraded to the level of prostitutes after their temples were taken over by Brahmins during the times of their resurgence after the fall of Buddhism.

According to the famous Indian scholar Jogan Shankar, following reasons played a major role in supplanting the system with firm roots:The Devadasi system was set up (Times of India report dated10-11-1987) as a result of a conspiracy between the feudal class and the priests (Brahmins). The latter, with their ideological and religious hold over the peasants and craftsmen, devised a means that gave prostitution a religious sanction. Poor, low-caste girls, initially sold at private auctions, were later dedicated to the temples. They were then initiated into prostitution.

1. As a substitute for human sacrifice, being and offering to the gods and goddesses to appease and secure blessings for the community as a whole;

2. As a rite to ensure the fertility of the land and the increase of human being and animal population;

3. As a part of phallic worship which existed in India from early Dravidian times;

4. Probably sacred prostitution sprang from the custom of providing sexual hospitality for strangers;

5. Licentious worship offered by a people, subservient to a degraded and vested interests of the priestly class; and

6. To create a custom in order to exploit lower caste people in India by the upper castes and classes.

On the basis of historical studies and research one can see the way this ‘sacred prostitution’ established itself and grew to become a part of Indian society. Vasant Rajas, ‘Devadasi: Shodha ani bodha’, (Marathi), Sugava Prakashan, Pune, 1997, mentions of an inscription of 1004 A.D., in Tanjor temple mentioning the numbers of Devadasies as 400 in Tanjor temple, 450 in Brahideswara temple and 500 in Sorti Somnath temple. According to Chau Ju-Kua, ‘Gujarat contained 4000 temples in which lived over 20,000 dancing girls whose function was to sing twice daily while offering food to the deities and while presenting flowers.’ Eminent Indian historians like R.C Mazumder and U.N Ghoshal have corroborated these facts. They have acknowledged a ‘high proportion’ in the number of the Devadasies in the temples during the medieval period.

Sadly, due to continuation of the factors responsible for the birth of this system, the tradition has maintained itself over the centuries. It is found in all parts of India, but was more prevalent in the south. In some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka it is still prevalent and has become a source of exploitation of lower castes (5).

Dalit Devadasies

It is interesting to note that the untouchables belong to the Dalit community and are lower caste Hindus, though, otherwise are not allowed to drink water from the same well as the rest of the higher caste people of the village. They cannot eat from the same plate or sit in the same place as upper caste people.  They work  mostly as night-soil cleaners.

When it comes to sex they are not only ‘touchable’ but are actually forced into sex by the higher caste Hindus and practices such as the Devadasi system are invented to facilitate and perpetuate their exploitation.

It is these powerful sections of the society, who control not only the economic and social activates but also the minds of the poor villagers that pose the biggest impediment to elimination of this evil. There is a crying need for a more comprehensive legislation to emancipate these vulnerable girls (2).


A word about Untouchables or Dalits


Caste permeates every pore of Indian society in hidden and insidious ways. It is so complex that few Indians understand it completely, although it is present in our lives in subtle and not-so subtle ways. Even though the caste hierarchy is a Hindu construct, conversion does not always help: Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs and Muslims often still cling to their caste identities when searching for marriage partners.


Many sociologists believe the caste system in India originated as a way of dividing labour and as a method of exercising social control for maintaining order. Its power – and almost absolute acceptance – stems from the fact that caste derives religious sanction for India’s majority from the 4,000-year-old Manu Sashtra or the Laws of Manu. According to this, society was divided into four broad social orders, or varnas, at the head were the Brahmins, a priestly class, who are the most pure. From the arms came the Kshatriyas, the warriors and rulers. From the lower limbs were born the Vaishyas, the traders. And from the feet the Sudras, the lowest caste, destined to serve the other three.

‘Untouchables’ were considered so impure and polluting that they were not even included in the system by Manu. This translated into their complete exclusion from society. Their hamlets were outside the village, and they could not even talk to or walk on the same path as the other castes, much less touch them. When the British ruled in India, they left this caste distinctions alone to avoid unrest. In some ways they even reinforced it, finding Brahmins useful as clerks and administrators who served the British Empire faithfully. Today, in India, the Untouchables call themselves ‘Dalits’, which means ‘Broken People or the Down-trodden people’. There are almost 180 million dalits in India alone and at least another 60 million around the world who face caste discrimination of various kinds. (6)

Perpetuation of Devadasi System

Traditional empires being despotic restricted trade to the palaces and temples, forbidding the common masses from trading or traveling. Only priests, the royalty and certain privileged merchants (who were closely regulated) traded and traveled. And one lucrative trade that the priests and princes often monopolized was the oldest and most despotic of all, prostitution.

Doubtless the girls were seduced by a theology of mysticism, just as the widows who, as suttees, threw themselves on their dead husbands’ funeral pyres believed they were attaining spiritual purity, but the sexual economics of female exploitation provide a candid explanation of what was happening. (7)

Legends to support Devadasi system

To keep the Bahujans and Dalits under control, stories were manufactured and incorporated in various Mahatmyas in the Puranas. There are three important legends, we should know about. It may be useful to know these traditional stories told by Brahmins and believed to be true by the sufferers themselves. Vasant Rajas, “Devadasi: Shodha ani Bodha”, (Marathi), Sugava Prakashan, Pune, 1997, has given the account of various legends in Puranas concerning this practice.

Legend of Renuka or Yallamma

According to this legend, Renuka appeared from the fire pit of ‘Putra Kameshti‘ Yadnya performed by a Kshatriya king Renukeswara. She was married to Rishi Jamdagni. The couple had five sons including Parasurama. One morning she was late in coming home from the river as she was sexually aroused by watching the love play in river, of a Gandarva raja with his queens. This enraged Jamdagni who ordered his sons to kill her. All other sons refused and were burned to ashes by the Rishi’s curse, but Parsurama beheaded her. The Rishi gave him three boons. By first, Parshurama asked to bring back to life his four brothers. By second he wanted his mother to be made alive. But her head was not available. So Parshurama cut the head of a woman from ‘Matang’ caste, and Jamdagni revived his wife with Matangi’s head. By third he wished to be free from the sin of matricide. But Renuka was cursed by Jamdagni to have leprosy and was banished from the hermitage. However, some ‘Eknatha’, ‘Jognatha’ Sadhus in the forest cured her. She returned back to Jamdagni who pardoned her and blessed her that she will attain great fame in Kaliyuga

Temple of Renuka was built in 13th century in Soundati hills. The Jains believe that Renuka is their ‘Padmawati’. For centuries, the devotees of Renuka, who are mostly Dalits and Bahujans, assemble there twice a year on Magha and Chaitra full moon days for pilgrimage and offer their daughters to make them Devadasies.

B. S. Kamble from Sangali dist. mentions the influence of the blind faith over Dalits to an extent that a backward class member of legislature had established a shrine of Renuka image in Bombay Mantralaya [“Sugawa”, Marathi journal, Ambedkar prerana issue, December 1998, p. 51]

Legend of Renukamba

There is a temple of Renukaamba, built in 14th century, at the top of Chandragutti hill in Shimoga district in Karnataka. The gullible masses from Dalit and Bahujan communities are made to believe that Renukaamba Devi is the incarnation of Renuka or Yallamma of Saundatti. The specialty of this temple is that Dalit women must go naked to worship this Devi. It is called ‘Betale Seva’ or ‘Nagna Puja’ i.e. naked worship.

A legend in the Purana says that if the girls go naked and pray to the Devi they get good husbands and married women get all their wishes fulfilled, the childless women get children, and that those Shudra women and girls who do not follow these traditions meet with a lot of calamities.

The chief Minister of Karnataka had to appoint a committee to investigate whether “Nagna-puja” has any religious sanction of Hindu Sastras. The report was submitted in 1988 and states that there is no such sanction in Hinduism. In 1992 a ban was imposed on “Nagna-puja”. There was a hue and cry raised against it, but since then it has stopped.

Legend of Khandoba

The third deity of Devadasies is Khandoba of Jejuri, although there are eleven ‘pithas‘. It is the ‘kul-daivat‘ of dalits, though many others worship him including some Muslim devotees, who presumably were dalits, and worshipped this deity before their conversion to Islam. Even robbers would attend the annual fair and finalize their plans there. They were, presumably, of ex-criminal tribes, which was a part of the Dalit community. Brahmins have homologized this deity and made out stories that Shankara took this form of Martanda, to protect the Brahmins from the Asuras.

People offer their sons and daughters to this deity. The terms used are Waghya for male and Murali for female. It is a form of Devadasi. Murali, whose token marriage is performed with Khandoba, remains unmarried throughout her life and leads a life same as the Devadasi of Yellama. After Ambedkarite awakening in the Matang society, who forms the majority of Murlis, this practice has declined albeit not completely stopped.

Jogam Shankar gives more details:

‘Muralis’ are girls dedicated to god Khandoba in their infancy or early childhood by their parents. “Poor deluded women promise to sacrifice their first born daughters if Khandoba will make them mothers of many children. Then after the vow the first-born girl is offered to Khandoba and set apart for him by tying a necklace of seven cowries around the little girl’s neck. When she becomes of marriageable age, she is formally married to Khandoba or dagger of Khandoba and becomes his nominal wife. Henceforth she is forbidden to become the wedded wife of any man, and the result is that she usually leads an infamous life earning a livelihood by sin. Some of these girls become wandering muralis. Others become ordinary public women in any town or city, while a few are said to live for years with one man.

The parents of such girls do not feel ashamed to take her earnings, because they belong to Khandoba, and what they do is not considered a sin in the eyes of his devotees. Kunbis, Mahars, Mangs and other low castes make Muralis of their daughters in this fashion” (Fuller: 1900: 103). High caste people of the region also worship Khandoba but their mode of expressing reverence to the god differs. Thus “Not a few high caste people visit Jejuri to pay their vows; but they never give their own girls to Khandoba but buy children from low-caste parents for a small sum of money, which is not a difficult thing to do and offer them instead of their own children”. (Fuller, Marcus B., “The wrongs of Indian Womanhood”, Edinburgh:Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier, 1900). [Jogan Shankar, p. 50](4)

Devadasi: A pan-Indian practice

 The Devadasi system is not just concentrated in one part or region of India – it can be found all over India, in Goa, Asam, and Orissa apart from above mentioned south Indian states.
The famous Lord Jagannath Temple in Orissa has been associated with the Devadasi system for several hundreds of years. In Orissa, the history of the Devadasi system can be traced back to the 6th and 7th century during the reign of Sailadbhawa dynasty. The queen Kalawati had employed many Devadasies for serving the Lord Jagannath. There was a time where devoting oneself in the temple was considered to be highly prestigious. At that time, girls from even rich, aristocratic families were also offered.

According to tradition, a Devadasi is a woman married to a god, and thus Sadasuhagan — at all times married and hence at all times blessed. In reality, she becomes the wife of the powerful in the community.  At that time the Devadasies had to maintain strict discipline. They were considered a personal possession of the temple and were not allowed to mingle with the rest of the people. They were not allowed to keep in touch with men.


It is probably during this period that the ancient classical temple dance forms like Odissi (Jagannath Temple Orissa), Kutchipudi (Andhra Pradesh) and Bharatnattiyam (Tamilnadu) developed and flourished to reach their zenith. However, in the course of time discipline declined and the Devadasies came to be viewed as objects of desire by the rulers and the priests. (8)


Branding of Deavadasis

We have the valuable testimony of Al-Biruni to the effect that the kings maintained this institution for the benefit of their revenues in the teeth of the opposition of the Brahmana priests. But for the kings, he says, no Brahmana or priest would allow in their temples women who sing, dance and play. The kings, however, make them a source of attraction to their subjects so that they may meet the expenditure of their armies out of the revenues derived there from.

The truth is that Brahmins and kings used to fight for the possession of these girls. Ultimately the conflict was resolved by an understanding and Devadasies were branded on their chest with emblems of ‘Garuda’ (eagle) and ‘Chakra’ (discus) for kings and ‘Shankha’ (conch) for Brahmins; Branded just like animals, slaves or Jew women in Auschwitz. (4)

Modern Devadasi: A giant step backwards

It was only as late as 1975 when awareness of this deplorable act came to the fore. Around five hundred women gathered in Kohlapur to discuss and find solutions to this problem. In 1985, a conference was held at Nipani which gave strength to the voice demanding the abolition of the Devadasi system. Gradually the demand to end this practice increased and compelled the Karnataka government to pass an act banning the Devadasi system. Some of the provisions in the Karnataka Devadasi (Prohibition of Dedication) Act of 1982 are:

  • Anyone found guilty in helping a girl to become a Devadasi or even attending the ceremony is liable to get 3 years prison term and would be fined upto maximum Rs 2000/-
  • Parents and relatives would be fined upto maximum Rs 5000/- if they are found guilty encouraging the girl to be dedicated

But these are just few of the preventive measures. At times the arm of law falls woefully short in protecting the unsuspecting girls. As a result, the Devadasi tradition is still prevalent in many parts of India and, according to Farida Lambey, vice-principal of the Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work, it continues to “legitimize” child prostitution. In some Nat communities in Rajasthan, many families openly usher their young daughters into prostitution, insisting that it is part of the community’s tradition.

But as Ms Shubhadra Butalia of Karmika says “The Devadasi system is a form of open prostitution. Poor people dedicate their daughters to the system in the name of appeasing the gods.” But how many more girls will be sacrificed for the sake of appeasing the gods. (8)

Muralis and Waghayas of Jejuri

Your LecherKeep your hands off Khandoba woman

Show me your money first

— Arun Kolatkar in Jejuri

The government of Maharashtra finally woke up to this fact in 2004 and appointed a study committee to take stock of the Devadasi system in Maharashta. Based on the committee’s recommendations, the Maharashtra government recently passed the Anti-Devadasi Bill to

‘provide for a comprehensive law to abolish the practice of dedication of women as Devadasies to Hindu deities, idols, objects of worship, temples for religious institutions and to protect the women so dedicated against exploitation’.

The Bill will abolish the Devadasi system and penalize the perpetrators of this crime with a fine of Rs 10,000-50,000 besides rehabilitating Devadasies through alternate employment and homes. There is also a provision for the formation of district and state-level Devadasi control groups, consisting of persons from civil society organizations. These groups will have the power to make recommendations to the government towards abolishing the Devadasi system.

According to Minister of Women and Child Welfare Harshavardhan Patil, ‘We found that despite the 1934 Devadasi Security Act, the tradition is still prevalent…Therefore, we have passed a more stringent Bill, which will soon come into force.’ However, the government is yet to give a firm commitment on exactly when the Act will come into force.

Dr Neelam Gorhe, an MLA who has worked closely with Devadasies through her NGO, the Stree Adhar Kendra, is skeptical:

‘the state government’s intention might be good but it does not have any specific measures for eradication and rehabilitation. It has not even found out just how many Devadasies there are in the state; so how are they going to go about the rehabilitation? Without specific numbers, what kind of funds will they allocate?’

According to Gorhe, in the south Maharashtra districts of Kolhapur and Sangli alone, they’re at least 200 Devadasies, who live in poverty and have taken to prostitution in the name of God.

There are no exclusive remand homes for Devadasies in the state. When they are rescued, they are placed in general remand homes, where they are taken care of until they turn 18. The older women are generally given vocational training. They usually find employment in cottage industries or as domestic help after this.

In Jejuri – a small temple shrine on a hill made famous by poet Arun Kolatkar’s collection of poems ‘Jejuri’ – Devadasies are known as Muralis. Here, as mentioned earlier, there are also the male counterparts of the Devadasies, known as ‘Waghyas’ – dedicated to a lifetime of service to Lord Khandoba when they were still little boys. Often, a Waghya shelters a Murali, and many form relationships. The result of this is that several Muralis give birth to children, which further stigmatizes these women and girls because they are expected to remain faithful to God.

A visit to Jejuri gives an insight into how the Devadasi system works. Today, there are about seven groups of Muralis and Waghyas living in Jejuri. Most of them live in shanties around the temple, often in groups of two or three. They spend most of their days in the temple premises, retiring to their homes only to sleep. A majority of them are middle-aged, poor, and express anguish that their ‘pure calling’ has been tarnished. Says Ratnamala Jadhav, now in her 50s, who has been a Murali ever since she can remember, ‘We earn about Rs 3,000 a month through dance performances on auspicious occasions.’ Their status as servants of the Lord also makes rehabilitation difficult.

An eight-year-old Murali is living in a remand home in Pune after she was rescued from Jejuri last year. Locals say that when she was just a few months old, she was found under a bamboo basket in one of the corners of the temple, with a garland around her neck, turmeric on her forehead, and her hands and legs tied with a rope. Members of a local labour organization took her into their custody, but because the child was ‘offered’ to Lord Khandoba already, they did not dare bring her up in any other way. A 60-year-old woman living near the temple voluntarily offered to look after her. However, since last year, she began harassing the little girl, by forcing her to beg and goading her to encourage male attention.

A local journalist got to know her story and sought the intervention of advocate Varsha Madgulkar, a local social activist. Both of them whisked the girl away from the clutches of her foster mother and registered a police complaint. The journalist, Vijaykumar Harishchandre, says,

“Even the police were hesitant to initiate any action because she was a ‘Murali’ and they feared the wrath of Lord Khandoba. However, with the intervention of the officers of the Women and Child Welfare Department, she was finally rehabilitated in a remand home in Pune.”

The entire exercise took one month. Comments Madgulkar, “Due to superstition and in the name of religion, hundreds of such innocent girls lead a hellish life.”(9)


The Plight of Joginis

Anjamma’s Story 

‘My mother died when I was three. When I was seven, my brother got polio and was paralyzed. My father had to take out a loan and I went to work rolling bidis (cigarettes) to help pay it back. But it was not enough and the landlord to whom my father owed the money said that he should send me to be dedicated to the goddess to earn more money. I didn’t want to go. I felt very bad. My father said: ‘If you don’t obey me, I will die.’ So I went to the temple. All my relatives came. I had a new sari and many jasmine garlands. The priest called a man to tie the wedding tali[necklace] around my neck. The man was Rangasamy and he was 25 years old. I was eight.

Three times a year we Joginis used to go to the temple for important festivals. Everyone worshipped us and treated us well. We danced and went into a trance. Everyone fell at our feet and called us goddess. On those days we became very important. The rest of the time they made fun of us.

When I was 12, I came of age (puberty). Rangasamy kept coming and telling me: ‘I tied tali on you, why don’t you sleep with me?’ I said no. But everyone in the village said: ‘Child, you are a Jogini. It is your duty. You have to sleep with him.’

He had a wife and two kids. He gave me money and rice. After one year I had a child, a baby boy. Soon after that, he abandoned me. I went to Bombay for construction work to support my child. When I returned to the village another fellow called Raghav was very nice to me. He said to my father: ‘I will protect her.’ He also had kids. I became pregnant again and had a girl. But he left me after six years.

I joined the ‘Joginis’ organization. I decided to fight the system. To prevent my sisters from suffering like me. I go to temples now and stop the Jogini dedication. People said: ‘After sleeping with so many men, what’s your problem?’ The upper caste men started saying we spread AIDS. I said: ‘You sons of bitches, motherfuckers, bastards, go tell that to your wives and mothers. I’ll get the government to do DNA tests on all Jogini kids and you can take them. I’ll take the Joginis away and look after them. I’ll expose each of you who sleep with us and then abuse us.’ Yes. They’ll shut their mouths and run when they see me now.’ Interview by Mari Marcel Thekaekara. (6)


‘Since the day of the initiation, I have not lived with dignity. I became available for all the men who inhabited Karni. They would ask me for sexual favors and I, as a Jogini, was expected to please them. My trauma began even when I had not attained puberty.’ (Testimony of a 35-year-old former Jogini named Ashama)

The Devadasies, spread all over India, lead intolerable lives. They have been quenching the thirst of millions of upper caster Indian males lusts. Since the inception of this deplorable system, the Joginis have been subjected to merciless subjugation and injustice (10).

Many of these women were tiny girls when they became Devadasies, “dedicated” to the sect by poverty-stricken parents unable to pay their future dowries and hopeful that a pleased goddess would make the next pregnancy a boy. Tradition has for centuries locked Devadasies into a proscribed and highly stigmatized social role. Forbidden to marry or work outside the temple, they have spent their lives tending the shrines and decorating altars, singing and dancing, telling devotional stories and collecting coins from worshippers to support themselves and their religious work.
They continue to face discrimination and indignities on the basis of caste, remain politically powerless and suffer from acute poverty, oppression and exploitation. They run high chances of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases. Although in independent India, many steps have been taken to prevent the system and rehabilitate the Devadasies, they are not enough to improve the situation as the root cause of poverty continues to push young girl to the roads of ‘sacred prostitution’. (10)
I would like to conclude with my poem Devadasi’s Saga on the plight of these Devadasi, wherein I have tried to empathize with these exploited women.


Devadasi’s Saga


I could hear the temple bell

Ringing in my ears,

The day I was born

To an unwedded mother, or rather

My mother was “married” to the temple!


The Temple was not my father!

I could hear the temple bells

Ringing in my ears…


I could hear the temple walls,

Heaving sighs in the dead of night,

Sighs of satisfaction…

I could hear my mother’s sobs,

Intermingle with the sighs,

Sighs of dissatisfaction…

As I slept on the cold-rough stone,

My cradle in the darkest chamber,

Where light hardly ever entered,

I missed a father’s loving touch,

When I asked my mother,

She said:

The temple was my father!


Then one day, through the

Half shut doors, I saw:

The priest heaving and hawing,

Full of sweat…

The pained surprise in my mother’ eyes,

(On being so exposed),

Silently beseeching me

With helpless tearful eyes:

“Go away! You’re still too young!”


But one day, I grew up!


I felt the “touch”,

A creeping crawling, lustful touch,

The expression in the priest’s eyes,

Matched the touch,

As he held me in his clutch…

Nausea welled up in my throat:

It was not a father’s touch,

I could feel it in my innocent bones…


Then Another, and Another…


Now, I am “My Mother”…


Like her, I do not know,

The father of the baby in my womb…


Like my mother, I am going to

Tell, my daughter:

“Temple is your father!”


This has gone on for centuries,

And still goes on…

This will go on forever…


I am the Devadasi of the Temple…

Temples may crumble…


I will go on


Author and Copyright©: Zoya Zaidi

Aligarh (UP), India


Is it not Shameful to survive over Women’s Body

New Delhi: Advertisement for a new skin whitening product for private parts has sparked outrage on the Internet with people blasting the commercial as an “ultimate insult to women.” This is the latest in a long list of skin whitening products to have earned the wrath of women including a wide range of fairness creams.

The television commercial for the “intimate” product promises its “special pH-balanced formula cleans and protects the affected area, and even makes the skin fairer.” Fairness products are regularly endorsed by film stars and celebrities in India despite protests from feminists that they promote insecurity and discrimination amongst women.

Magazines and advertising agencies have taken the flak for heavily using photo editing software on pictures of models endorsing such products to make them look fairer than they are in real life. The obsession with fair skin is often linked to a woman’s marital prospects.

Outrage over fairness product for private parts

Advertisements for these products almost always show a woman seeking a man’s approval after having her skin lightened with the help of the products.

“Ok this is the ultimate insult. Skin whitening for your vagina,” Rupa Subramanya, a writer with the Economics Journal for Wall Street Journal, India tweeted. User Neha who tweets as @ThePunjew said: “What a bummer, there’s no shade card yet to monitor fairness progress!”

“Geebus H! If you thought the fair skin fad wasn’t messed up enough already, presenting the next level,” said comic writer Sahil Rizwan.

Filmmaker Vic Sarin was recently in India to shoot parts of his latest documentary project, tentatively titled Hues that touches upon the issue of skin colour and racism. In an interview to The New Indian Express Sarin said: “We are all hypocrites when it comes to the skin colour.” People fight against skin colour bias, but they go back home and stock up on fairness creams, he said.

Several recent products have taken the fairness cream debate forward with deodorants for underarms and skin lightening for men. Many prominent male celebrities endorse these products. Cricketer Virat Kohli who endorses a fairness cream told the Times of India, “I signed on because even though I don’t necessarily use fairness creams myself, a lot of men do, and it has a strong mass appeal. Of course it’s not girly to look after yourself.”


“This is an absolute piece of shit. This advertisement re-iterates that Women is merely a sexual product.”