Staff of the departments concerned to be involved in the exercise
District Collector G. Vanimohan on Thursday proposed to conduct a field study on the population census of the Devadasi/Kalavantula communities in West Godavari district.
Ms. Vanimohan, who was initially in a denial mode on the practice of Devadasi system in the district, changed her stance after witnessing a large number of women slogging in the system present at an interactive session with V. Raghunadha Rao, Chairman of the One-Man Commission on the Jogini/Devadasi system. The Collector said the Revenue, Women and Child Welfare and Medical and Health departments would be involved in the field study which would go into the lifestyle, economic, social and health statuses of the Kalavantula/Jogini women.
Contradicting the official claims, Dasari Kesavulu, president of the State branch of the Surya Balija Welfare Association, said the presence of a good number of the victims of the Jogini/Devadasi system at the programme was itself an evidence for practice of the outlawed system in the district. He said Joginis, who were locally known as Kalavantulu, were living in Duvva, Velpuru, Tanuku, Ganapavaram and Relangi areas in the district. The Kalavantulu or literally artistes in Telugu had come to be known as such since time immemorial as they were dedicated to temples as dancers. Later, they found their way into sex work, he explained. He observed that the Jogini system was not limited to only one community but spread to different communities in different forms such as Dommara and Erukulas.
Mr. Kesavulu himself presented over half a dozen women from Kalavantula community from Ganapavaram area at the meeting. The families, who had been making a living by doing cultivation on the lands belonging to Suvarneswara Swamy temple, were displaced by the revenue authorities recently, he complained.
Gampala Bramhavati, a senior citizen from the city, stated that she rose from the Kalavantula community to serve as Regional Joint Director, Department of Women and Child Welfare, and Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Eluru by facing stigma and humiliation associated with their community all through. Although the government had issued a GO, converting Kalavantula community into that of Surva Balija, the officials were still issuing certificates with a mention of their original caste within the brackets, Ms. Bramhavati complained.
Women of the communities take part in an interactive session Practice of the outlawed system is still in vogue in the district
Women of the communities take part in an interactive session
Practice of the outlawed system is still in vogue in the district