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Better deal sought for devadasis

Staff Correspondent

Belgaum: Officials are not clear about the definition of a devadasi although the Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act, 1982, states it clearly. This has led to denial of benefits to devadasis, Parimala Vijaykumar, Advocate and State president of the National Federation of Indian Women has said.

She was speaking at the district-level conference of devadasis held under the banner of NFIW here on Wednesday.

Nearly 600 devadasis from ten taluks in the district participated in the conference that was inaugurated by Superintendent of Police Hemant Nimbalkar.

Ms. Vijaykumar said that a woman irrespective of her age would attain the identity of a devadasi through dedication — "the performance of any act or ceremony, by whatever name called, by which a woman is dedicated to the service of any deity, idol, object of worship, temple, other religious institutions or places of worship."

But, the authorities considered as devadasis only those women who had dedicated themselves to the service of God but leading the life of sex workers. But the fact was that not all the devadasis were sex workers. A good number of them led their lives by begging and doing petty business such as vending vegetables in village shandies.

Ms. Vijaykumar said that officials were not seriously monitoring the rehabilitation measures announced by the Government. Mr. Nimbalkar stressed the need to create greater awareness about the devadasi system.

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