Few days back, I watched “Jogwa” my first movie, that movie inspired me to write about the dark side of rural Karnataka. This movie is based on the life of rural people of “Karnataka”, who are devotee of goddess “Yellama” and their custom of “Jogta” and “jogtin”.
“JOGWA” is a Marathi word used to describe alms received by a jogta or a jogtini- a boy or a girl sentenced to devote their lives in the service of God by society. But the truth is that the Jogta/Jogtini are servicing because society having fear of the wrath of God, there insecurity that god needs to be pleased by sacrifice of teenagers. They are actually heated as sex-slaves and viewed with mixture of semi-respect.
According to this custom, women get sprain while combing girl hair, then it is assumed that Goddess Yalemmma don’t want her to comb their hair and blessed her and it is indication to her to give-up her normal life and become jogtin and her marriage is set with God and her only work is to worship God.
In case of boys, if because of any reason if there penis bleed (even a single drop), then it is assumed that he is no more men and he have to wear attire like woman and he have to marry with lord Krishna.
This makes you think that they are holding very respectable position but they have to face very hard reality.
Because they gave-up their normal human life and worship God, so they forced to start begging foods from door to door and eat what they get. Sometime they don’t get anything to eat for week. There condition is not more than beggar. Evil people take advantage of it and they sexually harass them. Even boys sexually abuse jogta (male) and in lieu give food and money. A jogta has to give up herself to god she cannot get married, have children or have a life of her own.
A jogta once chosen is stripped of his masculinity. He has to dress and accessories himself as a woman, let alone giving up on his physical needs, he has no choice. If he revolts, he is stripped of his masculinity this time physically. A Jogwa is put the most obvious use of member of the fairer gender can have. All identifying factors- caste, religion, identifies, and very name are taken away from them and they are known as Jogwa or jogtini.
People rape them, and do whatever they want. There are making funs of jogta ‘coz they dress like girl. They don’t have any right raise their voice, leave this slaveness and marry with someone and start their families. But still people following this custom.
This is not only story of Karnataka only, in many part of India it is continued as “DEVDASNI” pratha.
Even in Nepal, here is one community “PRADHAN”, in which marriage is performed with fruit “Bel” first then actual marriage ceremony, take place and girl, have to carefully protect bel from any damage. If that bel gets damage then she is forced to live their whole life like widow. Is it making any sense?
It showcase the crudeness of a society that call itself civic, but just a layer underneath doesn’t mind crushing individuality in the name of communal betterment, we should stop this to protect mankind from this unfair practices in the name of custom.