Monday, October 25, 2010

Slaves of god.

Trokosi comes from an Ewe word meaning "slave of the gods". It is a religious and cultural practice in which young girls, mostly virgins, are sent into lifelong servitude to atone for the alleged crimes of their relatives. There are more than five thousand young girls and women being kept in 345 shrines in the southeastern part of Ghana.

According to the American Anti-Slavery Group, "until the 18th century the offering typically took the form of livestock or other gifts, but that began to change and priests began demanding, and receiving, virgin girls as atonement for the sins of their relatives. Girls, often under the age of 10, are brought to the priest, ritually stripped of all their possessions, including clothes, and told they have to do anything the priest tells them. Most girls are raped repeatedly."

Juliana Dogbadzi, enslaved in a shrine in her native Ghana at the age of 6, was forced to perform sexual services for the holy man. She was able to escape seventeen years later, after several failed attempts, at the age of twenty-three.

Devadasi literally means god’s (Dev) female servant (Dasi), where according to the ancient Indian practice, young pre-pubescent girls are ‘given’ in matrimony to god or local religious deity of the temple. The girl ‘serves’ the priests and inmates of the temple. The sexual service given these men is considered service of god. The Devadasi is dedicated to the service of the temple deity for life and there is no escape for her.

The practice is prevalent in Karnataka, India and surrounding states, such as Andhra Pradesh. There are approximately 23,000 Devadasis in Karnataka today and approximately 17,000 in Andhra Pradesh. Researchers estimate that the number of Devadasis in Karnataka account, for approximately 80% of all sex workers in the area. Devadasis account for an estimated 15% of all sex workers in India.

Above, a terrified child is about to be dedicated for temple service. Each year, an estimated 5,000 young girls are brought to the festival of Yellama to be dedicated as Devadasis. On the night of the full moon in January, thousands of young girls join in a religious procession to the temple for goddess Yellamma in a remote village of Karnataka. After being dedicated, they are auctioned to the highest bidder and enter the world of prostitution.

It is impossible to overstate the particular evil this is, that in the name of god, a child is
trafficked into sexual bondage, where not only their innocence is stolen, but their very conscience is torn in two as they must some how reconcile the religion they are taught and the brutalization they are experiencing. Almost every religion has these two things in common, the belief that mankind is somehow made in the image of god and the concept of personal purification through faith or ritual. How can a child ever see god as anything other than a brutal beast with an insatiable lust for innocent flesh when the men made in god's image do those things to her in god's name? And how can these madmen preach sanctity, offer atonement, when they are the ones defiling and destroying true innocence?

Please help Conspiracy Of Hope end the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in our lifetime. And for every voiceless trokosi and devadasi child, please raise your voice with us to demand justice.

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