It’s election time and also demands time. Neglected sections in the society will obviously get the opportunity to demand for their pound of flesh.
So, it’s no surprise that Jogins, a sect, which was known to have been forced into ‘flesh trade’, from times immemorial, come out and demand for ‘pension’ whoever is approaching them for vote.
In fact, ‘Jogins’, the sect which was recognized way back in early eighties by the former Governor Kumud Ben Joshi, predominant in northern Telangana region, tried to reform them.
“Jogins’ are known to be entertainment artistes in temples to satisfy the rich and influential. They were believed to be dedicated to the presiding deity of the temples.
In fact there are over 2,000 ‘joginis’ in northern Telangana. The election exercise holds little meaning as the ancient religious practice that forced them into flesh trade as young girls. Ironically, it also got failed to find a mention of their existence in successive poll campaigns.
‘Joginis’, who are betrothed to the first man who uses them, are largely located in Medak and Nizamabad districts of Telangana.
The practice, also known as the Devadasi system, is prevalent especially among the Dalit community in parts of south India even after a law prohibiting it was passed almost four decades ago.
As part of this practice, parents marry their daughters to temple deities and the girls are forced to work as sex workers after they attain puberty.
Despite being ignored by the politicians, the ‘joginis’ cannot afford to ignore the polls as they fear losing their ration cards.
Says 30-year-old Puram Ananda, a Jogin; “Elections come and go but nothing has changed in my life. Still, I vote every year for fear of losing subsidised ration.”
She recalls her plight, who lives in a Dalit colony in Sardana village, saying, “I was given to a village elder to be used by him once I reached puberty. When he got tired of me, I became ‘property’ of the village, to be used by any man, anytime, anywhere.”
At present, she is the ‘property’ of four villages but earns less than what sex workers in big cities like Mumbai and Kolkata get.
To support her son’s education, she also works as a casual labourer in fields but income from that too is paltry.
Hence, she demands either the Centre or state government to recognize their plight and consider to introduce ‘pension’ as in case of other cases to help them overcome their day-to-day problems.