What does Devadasi mean?
The practice of Devadasi, meaning ‘a woman who serves god’, is an ancient Indian custom by which a girl is ceremoniously dedicated or married to a deity or to a temple to serve the goddess Yellamma. Traditionally Devadasis had a particular status in their community but over recent years the practice has been made illegal and has degenerated so that low-caste girls are being exploited and abused in the sex industry.
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Shobha, a former Devadasi, who is featured in the film ‘Sex, Death and the Gods’, was dedicated at the age of eight. Her family was very poor and they believed she could support the family financially once she reached puberty. Shobha is from the Madiga caste.