Quick Notes: Devadasis, Patrick McCollum, Pagan Vampires

A few quick news notes and updates for you on this Sunday. Sacred Sex Workers Speak Out: Vice Magazine/VBS Television recently launched a series called “Prostitutes of God” about sex workers dedicated to the goddess Yellamma in India, the devadasis. While the documentary presented a picture of exploitation, slavery, and disease, the women interviewed claim their stories were mangled, that Vice outed a HIV+ woman and implied that she was spreading the disease, and that they were not allowed to view the product before it aired. Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (‘Prostitutes’ Freedom from Injustice’) or “VAMP” (part of SANGRAM) has released an open letter listing their charges against Vice and film-maker Sarah Harris, and produced a Youtube video where the women speak out.

“In the age of the Internet, women in countries far away who used to be the objects of white people’s gaze with no right of reply now have access to the representations that are made of them, and the technological means to answer back.

Worshiping the Goddess of the Fallen

I want to direct your attention to a heart-wrenching New Yorker piece about women within the devadasi system (essentially sacred prostitutes) in India who are increasingly ravaged by HIV/AIDS, loss of social standing, and poverty. These women are dedicated/married to Yellamma, patron goddess of the down-trodden, and protector of prostitutes.“Yellamma never wanted it to be like this,” Rani said. “The goddess is sitting silently,” Kaveri said. “We don’t know what feelings she has about us. Who really knows what she is thinking?” “No,” Rani said, firmly shaking her head.