Devadasi particularly those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled

Devadasi
system is not a cultural practice by any stretch of imagination, but a system
of child rape, sexual slavery, caste discrimination and gender-based violence.
The importance of child protection laws to stop this practice cannot be
stressed enough. Despite the practice having been banned in India almost 30
years ago, a retired judge has estimated that there are still about 450,000 Devadasis in the country. The government
has not taken any notice of his report, leaving the oppression of young girls
to continue – even become normalized – without any legal or punitive
consequences (Preamchandar, 2017)

The
children of Devadasi need special
care than the normal children. Because of this practice, their children are
most vulnerable and oppressed. These children are socially excluded. Many of
the sociologists have told that “social exclusion is a complex and
multi-dimensional process. It involves lack or denial of resources, rights,
goods and services, and the inability to participate in the normal
relationships and activities, available to the majority of people in a society,
whether in economic, social, cultural or political arenas. It affects both the
quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a
whole.

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Social exclusion

            “Global
Initiative on Out-of-School Children – South Asia Regional Study” covered India,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Relevant excerpts from the report
specifically emphasize caste discrimination in the region. Girls in rural
areas, particularly those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in India
also have higher rates of exclusion. Particular social groups in India are more
vulnerable, school exclusion is considerably more prevalent among Muslim
children, and among older children from socially disadvantaged groups. The
average rate of exclusion for primary school-age children from Scheduled Castes
is 5.6 per cent and among Scheduled Tribes 5.3 per cent compared to the
national average of 3.6 per cent. Girls from Scheduled Castes have the highest
rates of exclusion at 6.1 per cent (Counterview.org, 2015)

Educational Aspirations among Dalits

Kamen & Ellen (2004) study on “The Status,
Survival and Current Dilemma of a Female Cobbler in India” observed that Dalit women are oppressed by structure
of the Indian society. Women from the lower strata have traditionally borne the
ascribed oppression generated by the Indian social structure. This study
highlights that, only one woman was found as studied in cobbler community (Dalit). Women in Dalit community always need to explore the ability to negotiate and
fight against multiple levels of oppression and succeed in sustaining herself,
her family, and her community. In spite of constitutional protection and
assurances, till now their status is found to be lower than not only that of
women in the general population and the Scheduled Caste women, but is also
lower than the status of tribal men.

Study conducted by Chandrashekar and
Akash (2011) in their paper highlighted that education plays predominant
role in changing socio-economic status of the people of society. Every section
of society aspires to obtain good position and status with the help of
education. This may not be possible for all people, as they live in
backward socio-economic conditions. It means the socio-economic condition
of people of society influences in developing overall personality of individual
obtaining through sound education. The study covered  225 scheduled caste students studying in
Degree College students studying in different colleges of Raichur
district.  The study revealed that most
of the scheduled caste students aspired to become teachers and lecturers rather
than join bureaucracy like KAS or IAS officers. Lower aspirations, of not
planning for state or central bureaucracy in favour teaching occupations, may
be due to their backward economic conditions. However, scheduled caste
students have talent they should aspire at high level and work hard. It may
help to improve their socio-economic status and also to lead the better life.

Objectives of the study:

1.      To
know the socio-economic condition of the Devadasi
women

2.      To
know the impact of social exclusion on the 
educational  aspirations of the Devadasi children

Methods and material used

The
current study was conducted in Mariyammahalli Bellary district. Because, Devadasi practice is more prevalent in
northern Karnataka particularly in the districts of Dharwad, Belagavi Bagalkot,
Bijapur  Bellary, Bidar, Gulabarga (Bharathi
& Madava, 2016). The study is focused on Bellary
district, Mariyamanahalli  which has highest
Devadasi population. Case study
method was adopted to analyze the individual assessment.  These case studies was documented through
series of visits to their village. Two case studies are discussed in this
paper. Both cases refer to the Devadasi
system. To assess the socioeconomic condition of the case, researcher has used
SES scale developed by Gaur. The researcher used interview and observation
techniques to know the aspiration of higher education among them. The study
used a blend of both primary and secondary sources data collection in the
study.

Case studies

Case.1

Bhagyamma1 18
years old,  and her mother is a Devadasi. Being an elder daughter of the
family she has to shoulder family responsibility and take care of two younger
brothers. Her mother is aged 42 years and she works as cooli for a wage of,
only 140 rupees a day. According to socio-economic status (Gaur, 2013) scale the family
score for socio-economic condition is lower class (score between 10 to
19).  Even they also wish to have higher
education. Uncertain unemployment opportunities are not letting her to go ahead
to reach her dream. It is not enough to complete their graduation and pursue
higher education. Two young brothers who are pursuing schooling education, but
also work occasionally to supplement the family income goes for mining work for
two days a week.

They
are excluded from the social ceremonies, and have less interaction with other
communities. They are often humiliated by other children and staff of the
school, by asking their father’s name  and their caste. They ridicule mentioning
their caste name. Finally it made them to leave the school. Now she says there
is nothing to fear in revealing that they are children of a Devadasi, because
they have nothing more to lose after leaving the school already. Bhagyamma says
their situation would have been better if the government prevented humiliation
in the name of Devadasi system, and also. demands governmental facilities for
the children oppressed and discriminated like her. Because of the intervention
of a few NGOs in the area, there is gradual transformation among the younger
generation. As a result of it educational aspirations of these children are
growing . Bhagyamma actually wanted to become a lecturer, which is now crushed due
to lack of support from the family members, financial aid and stigmatized life.
Later because of the intervention of Dalit
Foundation in the form of  serious
workshop and training, and opportunities given by this organization made her assert
her own identity. Currently she is working as a capacity building trainer and
receiving Rs 5000 as fellowship.

Case 2

Sudha, 19
years old, completed her matriculation and is a daughter of Devadasi. Having three siblings who are
school going girls. They were living in a slum where they don’t have proper
sanitation and house. Lack of proper income of the family and less interaction
with other communities made to feel isolated. 
They were not allowed to participate in any ceremonies celebrated by
people from other communities in the neighborhood. She was always embarrassed
by the people surrounded by them making fun of her Devadasi background. She did
not enjoy normal opportunities to grow confidently. In each stage of her school
life she was humiliated. She is the first generation girl in their family, who
stepped out of home to acquire education, she wanted to create her own identity
by becoming a teacher in society. Her dream was to study Bachelor of Education
course and wanted to become a teacher. She says, series of humiliating experiences
from teachers, suspicious looks of the peer group, poverty, and other deprivations
because of her social status forced her to give up her dreams. It made her to
leave the college at first pre university college level. She also disclosed
that getting a bridegroom to marry was difficult for them because she is
daughter of Devadasi. According to
socio-economic status (Gaur, 2013)
scale the family score for socio-economic condition is lower class (score
between 10 to 19). With the intervention of Sakhi NGO, she is able enhance her
capacity.  Now she is working as a field
officer in a NGO.

Conclusion

The
system of education, which is an imperative way for bringing about equality, is
in fact replicating social hierarchies. Multiple dimensional oppressions and
social exclusion on all the sphere of their life make first generation school
going children from Devadis background contribute to their vulnerability
Majority of Dalit girls drop out of
school due to harassment and economic pressures. The major cause for economic
pressure is the social exclusion which has made them marginalized and limited
their chances of earning a livelihood. They are often unemployed, as many do
not employ them. Now they are ready to reveal that they are daughter of Devadasi and demands to get entitlement
of their rights and government provisions. The study found Devadasi practice and being born in Dalit community are major cause for their social exclusion.
Specific intervention programs should be made to bring them to social
inclusion.

1 Name changed to keep the identity anonymous

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