Deuki- Religious prostitution in Nepal
Deiku- an ancient Nepalese Custom
The custom of Deiku is prevalent in Far West region of Nepal. Young girls are offered to Hindu temple by parents with a view to seek divine protection and favor from gods. Also many wealthy couples buy young girls with same purpose. The parents are honored in society because of the perceived sacrifice. Moreover, they ate also relived of the burden of getting their daughters married.
Destitute condition of deiku girls
The deuki girls get no financial assistance either from their parents or the couple who bought them. They are not considered fit for marriage. They have to depend on monetary offering by the worshippers to temple. Their income is vey meager. They are without any skill or education. For this reason and also wide spread belief that sex with a deuki will bring good luck
Daughters of deuki are called ‘devi’. Status as Nepalese citizenship flows from father. It is difficult for ‘devi’ to get Nepalese citizenship as there is no father. As the devis have no facility for education and other amenities, they also become deiku like their mothers. From 2006, it is a bit easier for a Deiki to acquire citizenship for her children by giving proof that father is Nepali. Matrilineal descent is not acceptable.
The deuki girls were traditionally offered as temple dancers at age of give or six years only. When they were a little grown up, they were used as sex worker for male priests and worshippers. Presently, the status of deuki is stigmatic.
Attempt to abolish The custom and rehabilitate
Nepal Government has abolished the Deuki practice. The Nepal constitution of 1990 considers the deoki practice as human trafficking and exploitation in the name of religion and culture. Several legislation was passed for purpose of eliminating this practice. However, according to a U.N.O report the number of deokis increased between 1992 and 2010. The estimate of deukis ranges between 2000 to over 30000. Thus, actual number is uncertain.
However, it appears that Government of Nepal is serious to curb this heinous practice of sexual slavery in name of religion and culture. The bill legislated some time back aims at protecting women from various types of abuses including the discrimination and exploitation in name of religion and culture.
It is heartening that many deukis have been rehabilitated thanks to NGOs like Jandesh. The deukis have been imparted skills in sewing, stitching etc. so that they may lead an honorable life in society.
Needless to say forced prostitution is a blot in name of civilization. It is shameful that this has sanction of religion and priests. Nepal has been a Hindu kingdom for times immemorial. The system of Deoki is undoubtedly a mirror that shows religion, holy men and priests un their true color.
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