//Eight-year-old forced into 'community sex'

Eight-year-old forced into 'community sex'

Eight-year-old forced into 'community sex'Wednesday, February 15, 2006 (Ranga Reddy):
In Andhra Pradesh, the parents of an eight-year-old pushed their daughter into a life condemned to sex work.A political leader in the Dharur village of Ranga Reddy district tied a mangalsutra around Anjali’s neck on Sunday. The idea behind the ceremony was to make the class three student ‘available’ as a sexual partner for anyone in the village, once she attained puberty. Shocking case —The man who tied the mangalsutra was to initiate Anjali into becoming what is called locally a jogini. "It is shocking. This case has come to light. But many more such cases are happening which we don’t come to know about,” said C Saila Kumari, District Welfare Officer, Ranga Reddy district. Anjali has been rescued by the authorities and 10 men in the village have been arrested in connection with the case. Superstition —Anjali’s mother says they acted on the advice of village elders who told her the child would stop taking ill frequently if she promised to dedicate her to the village ‘goddess’."I prayed that if my daughter gets well, I will dedicate her life to you and also put the mangalsutra around her neck,” said Sukkamma, Anjali’s mother.The family that survives on a one-acre farm land was reportedly hopeful of getting another two acres and Rs 2,000 once their jogini daughter came of age."There is a tradition in my family, so we gave our daughter. If someone had said this is wrong, we would not have done it,” said Gopal, Anjali’s father.
Wake up call —Despite awareness programmes, thousands of Dalit women live as joginis in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. They are not allowed to marry and are perhaps worse off than other sex workers.Eighteen years after the Jogini Abolition Act, girls are still pushed into such institutionalised form of prostitution. Ironically, being a jogini has apparently had religious sanction for over 2,000 years, which in itself should be a wake-up call to the administration. What is even more worrying is that even the story of Anjali has come before the public eye by mere accident.