Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health
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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 157-162

Targeted sexual exploitation of children and women in India: Policy perspectives on Devadasi system

1 Department of Health Policy and Management, Public Health Foundation of India, Indian Institute of Public Health-Hyderabad, India
2 Department of Health Policy and Management, Public Health Foundation of India, Indian Institute of Public Health-Hyderabad, India; Department of Epidemiology, University of California Los Angeles, USA

Correspondence Address:
T N Sathyanarayana
Public Health Foundation of India, Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad, ANV Arcade Amar Co-Op Society, Kavuri Hills Madhapur, Hyderabad - 500081, India

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.98603

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This paper introduces an alternative comprehensive approach to reduce sexual exploitation and child prostitution. The paper focuses on female devadasi temple prostitutes (Child sex workers but popularly understood as temple prostitutes in the name of dedication to deity) children in South India and the provision of support to integrate devadasi girls into the community and improve their psychosocial situation. The paper is designed broadly, taking cultural practices into consideration and also with a community participatory approach to achieve the goal. The broad objective of the paper is to promote alternative policy approaches, such as: 1. Community participation to integrate current devadasi girls into regular community life, 2. Community participation to avoid future initiation of young girls into the devadasi system, 3. Meeting the psychosocial needs through health, counseling and economical needs of devadasi girls in the community, 4. Assistance to devadasi girls as an alternative to devadasi service in the community. The policy advocacy includes participation by key community members and women's local Self-Help Groups (SHG's) networking to support existing devadasi girls to overcome stigma, social discrimination through cleansing rituals, and organizing vocational training skills to enhance their economic status. Other policy issues are integration of primary healthcare services to these girls and extending counseling services on sexual health and behavioral practices and also to introduce a micro credit system to existing devadasi girls. The paper draws its conceptual framework from psychosocial working group to provide comprehensive strategies to address community complexities. A community participatory approach has been proposed to adopt, in order to build a sustainable strategy to provide the psychosocial needs of the girls initiated into devadasi services, especially in South Indian states where it is prevalent.

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