Review of Literature on Prostitution

Topics: Devadasi, Bharatanatyam, Prostitution, Human sexuality / Pages: 11 (2739 words) / Published: Sep 8th, 2013
Topic: Prostitution
Brinda S

Prostitution is often regarded as the world’s oldest profession. It has existed since time immemorial and probably will continue to do so. Indian culture with its vast diversities is no exception. On one hand it has condemned prostitutes by ostracizing them and on the other hand it has accommodated it as in the case of the devadasi system. It was in this backdrop that I developed an interest to study this inherent contradiction. There are two other reasons for choosing this topic- a) the interest generated through a class discussion; and b) the question of legalization of prostitution that has come to the forefront with an increase in the number of rape cases and crimes against women registered. I am interested to study this with the help of devadasi system, an organized system in prostitution.
The devadasi system, in particular, has captured my attention because of a documentary that was screened in the class. The documentary opined that the institution was dominant in South India and most importantly that it had religious sanction. Such alarming information, I thought, definitely required a deeper study. Also since, thankfully, the institution does not exist now; the measures or the means through which it was washed out of the society interested me. But before reviewing various articles on prostitution and devadasi system it is important to get a conceptual clarity. Bloch held that prostitution was a distinct form of extramarital sexual activity characterized by being more or less promiscuous, was seldom without reward, and was a form of professional commercialism for the purpose either of intercourse or of other forms of sexual activities and allurement, resulting in due time in the formation of a special type. (Bullough & Bullough, 1996)
The term devadasi literally means “servant of the god”. It refers to the class of women who through various ceremonies of 'marriage ' are dedicated or dedicate themselves to the deities



References: 1. Anandhi, S. (1991). Representing Devadasis: 'Dasigal Mosavalai ' as a Radical Text. Economic and Political Weekly , 739-746. 2. Bradford, N. J. (1983). Transgenderism and the Cult of Yellamma: Heat, Sex, and Sickness in South Indian Ritual. Journal of Anthropological Research , 307-322. 3. Bullough, B., & Bullough, V. L. (1996). Female Prostitution: Current Research and Changing Interpretations. Annual Review of Sex Research . 4. Patra, B. (2004). DEVADĀSĪ SYSTEM IN ORISSA: A CASE STUDY OF THE JAGANNĀTHA TEMPLE OF PURI. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute , 159-172. 5. Srinivasan, A. (1985). Reform and Revival: The Devadasi and Her Dance. Economic and Political Weekly , 1869-1876.

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