Prostitution isn’t called the oldest profession in the world without reason. In the ancient times, courtesans occupied places of regal status in the kingdoms, something which seems to have trickled down to a horribly poor and extremely difficult-to-escape state of affairs in India today.
Whether it’s because of tradition or a society where that is the only means of income, there are places in India where prostitution is a widely accepted and sometimes the only form of livelihood.
1. Natpurwa, Uttar Pradesh:-
This village in Uttar Pradesh is inhabited by people who were part of the Nat Caste. Prostitution, their main source of income, has been a tradition in this village of 5000 for 400 years. The children of this village live with their mothers and rarely know who their fathers are. The archaic tradition has not died out despite setting up of schools due to a culture of male lethargy.
2. Devdasis of Karnataka:-
The Devdasis, pray to the Hindu Goddess Yellamma. The word, which means “god’s female servant”, is apt. Children are ‘married’ to the Goddess, after which they dedicate their lives to their religion. Their virginity is auctioned off in the village and they spend the rest of their lives as prostitutes, making money for their families. Despite being outlawed, this practise continues underground and is as deplorable as it sounds.
3. Wadia, Gujarat:-
Since ancient times, the womenfolk of this village have supported their families through prostitution, while the men actually find suitors for them. In other words,the men of the villages are pimps and this culture has been around for centuries, which is why it has been difficult to stop. Education drives and mass weddings have, predictably, had little effect.
4. The Bachara Tribe of Madhya Pradesh:-
This is another matriarchal community who descend from royal courtesans. Here, it is accepted to pimp out the eldest daughter in order to support the family. The fathers and brothers usually negotiate the ‘terms’. With so much social pressure in their small community, it is hard for girls to leave the practise without being ostracised.