India's Devadasi System

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Akshata Jivoji (left) and Malashri Kamble perform their morning prayers in their hostel room at Vimochana Sangha's school for the children of Devadasis in Malabad, India.  The school, which was founded in 1990 by Mr. B.L. Patil, is the first residential school established to break the cycle of the Devadasi system.  Because the belief is that all female children of Devadasis should themselves become Devadasis, the school was created to remove the children from the culture in which this practice took place and instead offer them an education.  All students receive free tuition, books, uniforms, food and medical care. Graduates have gone on to become teachers, nurses, engineers etc.  "Most importantly, more than 300 girl chidren are married and living in the mainstream of society," says Patil proudly.  "This doesn't seem like an achievement for others but for us, this is proof that this generation has been prevented from following their mothers into the Devadasi system,".