Prostitution is not always what we get to see on roadside or street corners. Sometimes its found deeply entwined with god, temples and religions. It is ironic that ‘religion’, one place we turn to in search of god, sanctity and spirituality is among the many places that house the evil of prostitution and abuse within its walls.
Sacred or temple prostitution has been around and is probably as old as the human civilization itself. In India, we now know it as the Devadasi system,’ Devadasi’ meaning “servants of god.” Although, not meant to be prostitutes at the time but temple servants, devadasis have lost the elevated social status they once had and are now merely prostitutes. Many who may be familiar with the devadasi culture, may not be familiar with a similar culture that exists in western Africa – Trokoshi. It is very quite similar to the devadasi culture prevalent in India but with a key difference. Here, girls some as young as 6 years old are sent away to troxovi shrines. The purpose they are dedicated for is to make amends for the wrongs committed by any members of the family.
This excerpt from Wisdom Mensah’s article from The conversation.com explains…
Trokosi is a traditional system where virgin girls, some as young as six years old, are sent into Troxovi shrines (shrines for gods) as slaves to make amends for wrongs committed by a member of the virgin girl’s family. The Trokosi system is based on the belief that gods have the power to search for wrongdoers and punish them. People who feel an injustice has been committed against them, go to the shrine and place a curse on the offender so that they will be punished by the gods. These curses take several forms, strange sicknesses, unexplained deaths, incurable diseases or successive deaths within a family. When the virgin girls are sent to the shrines, they become the “wives of the gods” and are sexually exploited by the priests and shrine elders. The shrine priest is the spiritual head of the shrine and “proxy for the gods” while clansmen can be appointed as elders of the shrine. The girls are forced to work in any capacity that suits these priests and elders – for instance, on their farms.
If there are children born out of the relationship with them, they become the responsibility of the virgin girls’ family.
What we see here both the case of devadasi and trokoshi culture, is an abuse by mere men, in the name of god and lives given away to despair.
Prostitution has many root causes. While in most cases it stems out of poverty, many times it proceeds by the abuse of power. It’s a shame to witness stories of abuse that spring up from within the walls of religious institutions. Sacred prostitution has its place in many countries – China, Japan, Greece, Rome. What can really unlock the doors for the victims of sacred prostitutions and their communities is a realization that placing Man in the place of God can only result in greater evil.
Cover image : https://jauntyintrovert.wordpress.com/