You head out to a mall you end up spending a bomb, you plan for a birthday bash and choose to downplay that fat bill, you go on a shopping spree and shell out tens of thousands on that wedding Sari and jewelry only to be kept under safe locks. There are many times in life when you spend penny wise and pound foolish but that does not affect you as it is your decision to spend on yourself and your loved ones. You have the liberty to spend and decide for yourself because you are empowered with your innate and built in skills well supplemented by education and financial independence.
But far away from the glitters of city life is a destitute village near Belgaum district in Karnataka where Muttavva lives. Muttavva like many other women in the region was a victim of the Devadasi system that ruined her childhood and youth and unlike many of us struggles for every paisa that she earns.
The devadasi system which means ‘a female servant of God’ was an ancient practice in India where young girls were married to God and dedicated to the temples to offer their services, devotion through various forms of art like music dance, they also gained knowledge by learning literature. They were treated with respect their presence was considered to be auspicious for all occasions and were showered with many gifts. People even collected the dust at their thresholds and carried it to their daughters as a blessing. They were the artistic agents of spreading religious faiths through their narrative dance and music forms. They were powerful and dominating in matters of temples as they had rich patrons. But as time passed, beliefs and practices were misinterpreted and misused, soon this practice was completely misplaced, the kings the landlords and anybody who claimed to be powerful equated themselves with a Godly status and exploited the Devadasi women for their lust in the name of God. When they did not receive much patronage they were pushed into leading a life of penury and forced into prostitution. The Devadasis were reduced to objects of sex and were looked down upon with a glaring stigma in the society.
In spite of the Indian Government banning the Devdasi system it is still practiced secretly. It is nothing but an illicit flesh trading racket carried out by the illiterate unemployed locals for their financial and pleasurable gains in the name of God.
Sadly the Government has not done anything much to curb this practice other than banning it superficially. The rehabilitation programs are just not enough, implementing the legislation with an iron will can surely stop such fatal customs in true spirit.
The only answer I see to shun this evil practice is to provide sufficient employment coupled with quality education to these people by setting up schools for them and providing alternative livelihood along with a whole lot of counseling to reform their mindsets without forcing any kind of religion on them in return.
Apart from just Government policies even we the people who want to make a difference to our society should stand up for them and help them restart their lives.
How can you and I make a difference to these vulnerable powerless deprived set of people? Should we donate something and just pray for some miracle to happen? No I don’t believe that a donation can really make any difference in the long run. Donations will only leave them at the receiving end again.
You cannot always feed the horse you can only guide it to take the right path by helping it reach the mouth of the river but it is for the horse to fend its thirst.
Empowering someone with skills and facilitating them with the means to be independent is more effective in improving the life style of the aggrieved and also the economy of the country than the sympathetic gesture of donations which actually makes them feel low.
Here is your chance to lend a helping hand to someone who is so destitute and needy, you will not donate but you will loan them out.
Today, Muttavva 47 year old ex devadasi is a skilled artisan tailor and is the proprietor of a flourishing tailoring business that brings in Rs.12000 a month, pays for her 3 children to go to school, and secures a safe childhood for them. Her friends Shakuntala and Renuka, both middle-aged single mothers, have similarly battled the system, starting their own small scale agriculture businesses that keep their families out of poverty and their children in school. All these 3 women now need to start securing their futures by scaling up their little businesses. They seek a loan of Rs.58000, repayable in 2 years, to buy the raw materials needed to expand their businesses. This loan will help them increase their revenues, which in turn will help them independently meet the hurdles of inflation, expenses of higher education for their children, and medical expenses that will set in as they age.
Low interest loans to these needy people will enable them to restart their lives.
Milaap a for-profit venture offers a web based platform where individuals can loan out to the poor in association with MASS(Mahila Abhivrudhi Maththu Samrakshana Samsthe). They do not accept donations nor do they provide things for free. Their idea of helping is by making cheap loans available to those who need them and thereby eradicate the devadasi system.
So if you think you can make a difference and teach somebody to dream lend now with whatever contribution you can make at this link below, don’t forget to include this referral link when you lend.
This post is written for the Milaap-‘The Hope Project’ in association with Indiblogger.