Prostitutes of God

Prostitutes of GodIn Prostitutes of God, VICE travels deep into the remote villages and towns of Southern India to uncover an ancient system of religious sex slavery dating back to the 6th century.

Although the practice was made illegal more than 20 years ago, we discover there are still more than 23,000 women in the state of Karnataka selling their bodies in the name of the mysterious Hindu Goddess Yellamma.

They are known as Devadasis, or servants of God. From city red light districts to rural mud huts, we meet proud brothel madams, HIV positive teenage prostitutes, and gay men in saris.

Our intimate exploration into the life of the Devadasi reveals a pseudo-religious system that exploits poverty-stricken families to fuel modern India’s booming sex trade.

Watch the full documentary now

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Ratings: 8.18/10 from 28 users.

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92 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Fecioru Florin

    Dogmatic bastards.

  2. Guest

    Sex God Poverty HIV Gays...all the ingredients needed for a big soup of comments.
    az

  3. adilrye

    I feel like it's been ages that Vice has done a generally interesting documentary, I hope they return to that instead of skateboard videos -__-

    This is another really interesting one. There's a lot going on in this half an hour documentary; tradition vs. modernity, inequality, the caste system, patriarchy...I don't know what more I can add to the discussion. So, all I'll say is that good job Vice. They seemed to get it all together so effectively.

  4. Rick Kiriakidis

    Vice documentaries are the best of the best. I would recommend ALL of them, its a mad world we live in and vice shows us that harsh, shocking and disturbing reality.

  5. adilrye

    I completely agree. They do it so well. I don't if it's the way they present or the footage they use, but they do capture the reality in a way that's unique.

  6. Epicurus

    i agree. need more vice docs!

  7. AlmostAlwaysAwake

    So much for Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man". Progress is an illusion, & intellectual superiority the spinner of the web.

  8. over the edge

    i try not to impose my western morals and values on others that do not share my views. but there has to be a line, there has to be a set of human morals and while some may "choose" this life i do not thing any child had the capacity to make this choice.now i am not attacking the people of India in general or these people in particular. lets not forget this is the oldest profession for a reason and we in the west still struggle with this issue. laws and punishment haven't worked why not try regulation,education (for both prostitutes, customers and general public) and provide real alternatives to this choice. without providing alternatives this will continue because desperate people make desperate decisions.

  9. dewflirt

    Bugger, missed it ! :(

  10. Herald

    Will India ever have a civil rights movement? this nonsense of caste system is so 1800. How do India expect to get global respect if they openly and blatantly carry on with the caste system? shame

  11. panthera

    Poor women. :-(

  12. Guest

    The doc was well made, much honesty from the interviewed, good cinematography and the presenter was well chosen. I enjoy to see these young men and women hosting documentaries.
    I know it is becoming easier for anyone to go out in the world movie camera in hand while reporting on things of interest and thanks to group like VICE (proud to say it started in Montreal) and sites like TDF they have an audience.
    az

  13. Patricia Amundsen

    Perhaps Worms would rather be eagles......if they could fathom such a life. But who is more useful...the Worm or the Eagle?

  14. Robyn318

    For parents to indoctrinate a child of 8 years old or less into a future life of prostitution to support the family says as much about the culture as the religion. Here in the U.S. we tolerate a lot of ignorance in the name of religion…but there is a boundary that cannot be crossed without swift and severe consequences. How do you respond to something so vile? This is the barbaric stuff done to a conquered people not members of your own society.

    This is not the purpose of self-understanding through theism: This is about control, disrespect, contempt and dehumanization of your fellow citizens in an effort to gain self-worth in a society that is devoid of it. I have been through some really tough times; but I just cannot imagine how disgusting life is, even for the higher castes, if this is how they treat their own religious brethren.
    I must confess I know almost nothing of the Hindu religion. I cannot believe the original ideology and founding principles taught that to achieve personal enlightenment you forced your neighbor and their pre-adolescent descendants to be treated as sperm receptacles for perpetuity. This is the epitome of Ignorance…and to think they are considered civilized.

  15. Alexandra Jane

    Poor dog with the broken leg :(

  16. LIVEFROMLIMBO

    indoctrination of prostitutes in north america= media

    priests abusing little boys, polygamist communes, people going to jail for child porn production/distribution/possession, you don't think there is underage prostitution in the US, why not look into the nations capital, washington d.c. on this topic. im sure u'll be surprised at what you find. and im not talking about the political "prostitutes" in the white house either, but that will be for another discussion.

    my point, it is difficult to make such widespread value judgements, especially in religion and especially when we are not perfect either. to say that all hindus are like this is like saying that timothy mcvay(spelling? Oklahoma city bomber) is characteristic of all modern day american christians.

    barbarism, look around- its everywhere. you seem to think that your level of civilization is much higher- NFL, IDOL, fast food and shopping malls, credit cards, a breached constitution, economic collapse, a million different churches (but all supposed to be Christian or catholic i guess) and secret organizations (as expressed by JFK rest in peace) - the height of civilization?

    not saying that the people in this documentary are right, definitely not- but them being wrong does not automatically make us right by default.

  17. Robyn318

    Sure there is underage prostitution in the U.S., however there is an increasing effort to root it out: i.e. Google’s new privacy policy. It is a tough ‘addiction’ to combat, especially here in the U.S., because of the way our political system is managed; by money. Many of the child prostitutes here in the U.S. are runaways that are preyed upon by insidious pimps, lurking at bus terminals. Our society is aware of this, we know it happens in almost every city where there is a bus terminal; but there is no money in it, so it’s overlooked, and a new face it put on another milk carton. We here in the U.S. are the absolute worst, because we say we know better, yet our public officials look the other way with their hand out, and we, as a society condone it.

    It is just as rampant here as anywhere else; that doesn’t mean because it is sanctioned by religion, it is okay to sell your 8 year old daughter into the sex trade for profit.

    For decades I have been bewildered by ‘stuff’ the Catholic Church gets away with. In the 1940’s & 50’s promiscuous girls were sent to convents (harems for priests). I knew a plumber that worked in NYC and he told me his company got calls quite often from the churches that their toilets were clogged; many times it turned out to be an aborted fetus. When he told his boss about it he was told to forget about it, it happens all the time. Does that make it right? And we all are familiar with the pedophile cover-ups; we had one in our town too. All the kids knew about Father xxx and his ‘fondness’ for children; if the kids knew, the parents knew! Finally he was shipped of to some other unsuspecting community, probably when he ‘touched’ the wrong child.

    My point is there usually IS a viable basis for theism, creating the sex trade business isnt one of them.

  18. mammoor

    There is no where in the Islamic world who aloud or do such a thing there many Muslim country's around the globe don't have nothing to eat or to wear but they never sell or put them own children in to such a low position am really sad for all thous girls and family , may God be with them.

  19. Ghost_Buster

    A choice is a choice, forced or not it's always yours. and there's only one quote for this: Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets(except dogs with broken legs).

  20. Pennia Perez Gonzales

    The caste system stretches much, much farther back than the 1800's. India is an ancient society, these cultural practices can not be overcome easily, especially with a population of 1 billion+. It would be nice if it could all change tomorrow, but this is an issue that's going to take generations to overcome. Thankfully with the advent of the internet and India's upward development, the caste system is doomed to the pages of history, eventually.

  21. Rocky Racoon

    I thought Ghandi walkd on water and freed everyone and now they have Nirvana in India thanks to non violent Ghandi the one we should all model ourselves after as social activists.

  22. jassphat

    There are forced Child brides to much older man in Iran and Yemen, really its just a front to traffic young girls. The Islamic world is not without sin to

  23. Irishkev

    They have child prostitutes in the U.S. Robyn, and probably everywhere that there is a market for this sick practice.

  24. Jadegarden

    Its a universal phenomena just that it has different hues as per location and culture
    women n children are always open to exploitation everywhere, esp Religion is a safe tool when you can use it as a garb to protect self and your activity
    sad but this practice of sex slavery isnt going away soon

  25. Robyn318

    I know, a few years back I saw an investigative video, on mainstream tv, that uncovered an American pediatrician that would travel to Thailand to have sex with children.

  26. tom

    no link to watch or download

  27. LIVEFROMLIMBO

    religion and government are both institutions on their own.
    Yes its not sanctioned by religion in the states (unless ur a polygamist i guess) but it doesnt have to be sanctioned.
    the examples you describe (i must add i never heard about the fetus down the toilet-disturbing imagery nonetheless) show that the people doing this are capable of keeping it hidden for the most part- in this way it becomes a secretive institution, where people buy child prostitutes or trade child porn.
    are they any more right/wrong then people who say it is their religion? im not sure b/c im not religious.
    it seems you are right that most priests just get transferred to another community and it is all very hush hush. These guys should be thrown in jail. the churches' acceptance of such actions is reason enough for me to conclude that they are definitely in on it- the punishment for such acts is laughable- does not this speak of some acceptance of child abuse by the church itself?
    i think they are just different societies- child abuse is child abuse- whether institutionalized in religion or accepted by a religion- there is little difference- some kid is gonna get hurt.

  28. Robyn318

    I agree however here in the U.S., even though there is supposed to be a separation of church and state, there really isnt. In the 1996 elections the news commentators continuously commented on how powerful the religious right was becoming and that someone should 'tap' into it. The next election, sure enough GW Bush, a purported womanizer and drunk, ran as a devout Christian and with the help of the Supreme court, attained office. I see the same thing going on in the Republican debates this election, one accusing the other of being a moderate conservative, implying they don’t have strong Christian values.

  29. Ben Stelle

    Video works fine.

  30. gert2222

    LOL God whores

  31. dominator88

    google: Yemen child marriage ,they still do what mohammad did to six years ayesha

  32. Serhend Adil Sirkecioglu

    its rly not fair to condemn the practice of someone who was simply doing the norm in his lifetime, but yeah child marriage TODAY is not cool.

  33. Ame Bible

    This is a sickening world- It is just control over the ignorant -helpless and hapless. Why is the local government so blind to the plight of these helpless individuals. I am at loss for words.

  34. Ja-Man

    People impoverished , oppressed anywhere either sacrifice theirselves or their children to to those who are so shallow that they think their full stomachs and full pockets make them better.....usually the sarcastic pompous parasites are venom spreaders and sh__ bags

  35. Vishvas Vasuki

    The yellamma cult does not define the devadAsI institution. Did you know that the great singer MS Subbulakshmi was born into a family of devadAsI-s and she remained a true devadAsI at heart for all her life? Did you know that the great exponent of bharatanATyam, bAlasarasvatI was a devadAsI - and proud of it, unlike rukmiNI devI arundale (who sought to "reform" the dance to christian ideals)? Did you know that devadAsI-s of pUri were required to be celibate? Besides, prostitution to you may be sexual and financial freedom to others.

    In any case, the devadAsI system was no more connected to slavery or exploitation fo women than Catholic priesthood is connected to pedophily.

  36. Mineta Jakupovic Mima

    sick !!!that's not religion,that's slavery!!!

  37. Earthwinger

    "In any case, the devadAsI system was no more connected to slavery or exploitation fo women than Catholic priesthood is connected to pedophily"

    Ya know....from where I stand, that's probably not the best analogy. And yes, I speak from a position of experience, having been taught by priests and nuns at a catholic school.

    Fortunately, the kiddie fiddlers never got around to me, but it did happen to others. Beatings were routine though, and that I didn't escape.

    Just sayin'

  38. Eco Living

    No wonder why there is so many Earthquakes,floods, tusarmies and Icefreeze's deaths GOD said he'll wipe out
    all these sickos with these so called natural disasters

  39. Eniki520

    To bad india isn't the only place hit by those natural disasters.

  40. Missy Ruth

    The girl who did this "documentary" could hardly contain her frigid, puritanical disgust at a very complex complex system that allows the Indian people of certain castes a way to feed their families. It was very clear that some of them choose this lifestyle - they sell their bodies as is their right to do, and they live better. Amsterdam, anyone? However, young girls forced into prostitution? That is another story. And one that wasn't clearly demonstrated - instead we get a lot of opinions by a subjective "journalist" who "couldn't understand" the very Goddess that has prompted the practice she is condemning. Or at least she didn't try very hard. I feel as if I learned nothing about this system at all, and although it is clear that innocent, unknowing kids being tricked into sex slavery should always be stopped, I'm not going to make any conclusions that are black and white based on this "documentary", that is for certain.

  41. SilentEnigma

    this has nothing to do with Hinduism.... this is a cultural practice not religious... Nowhere in Hinduism this practice is advocated

  42. Kawkawe Fouad

    respect your self you if you hat islam it is your problem but make you will find truth in your grave

  43. Elizabeth InKashiwa

    The devadasis of today bear no resemblance to the devadasis of the past. This is a degraded, and degrading, practice. Missionaries condemned the temple practice of patrons supporting devadasis, resulting in the slip down the economic and social ladder. India needs to revive its temples, support women with education, training, and restoration of cultural properties, and out of prostitution.

  44. Hillaria I. Goodgame

    I agree. This is also a story about the long term effects of Colonialism and the long term results of applying foutside laws to other cultures and societies,

  45. Bilbo Baggins

    Whores for God? That's a religion I can dig, man...

  46. 911_was_an_Inside_Job

    Devdasi's have been always subjected to Sex-Slavery whether in Ancient India or Today. Their status was not as bad as it is now but the role has never change. They were and still subjected to brutality of our society towards women which is not only the sotry of India alone but entire world.

  47. billy

    u wont dig that sh*t when u get hiv from a teenage prostitute.. that sex slave stuff is lame and shows how religion still controls people everywhere 4 what? lies and betrayals and so some perv can get his rocks off .. people need to have a higher moral standard and think more about how they affect other people..

  48. AbdelZ

    This video cannot be downloaded , amazingly enough : i tried to do just that many times with no result .

    How come , folks ?

    I do have the best download manager though : internet download manager .

    I cannot download just this video only here .

  49. Robyn318

    Look for it on you tube.

  50. sevok_rc

    being an INDIAN....THE UPWARD DEVELOPMENT is an illusion...if u dig deep...nothing has changed..its just a cover of MISTAKEN MODERNITY...we need some enlightened souls my friend....caste system has got strong roots as it was associated with the economy of the higher classes...everything is framed to support the pillars of a fuedal system..u know ...india still tops the market of fairness creams...though 90% of the population is black...but....do visit india once..not for its cultural values..or spiritual stuffs...experience the contrast,,it can blind u..

  51. AbdelZ

    Thanks, thought so

    But , how come the video does not get downloaded from here ?

    Thanks again , appreciate indeed

  52. Robyn318

    Im not sure, I had to go to You tube for one of the videos too.

  53. AbdelZ

    Exactly , i am not sure either : weird : this happened to me only with this video though.

    Which video are you talking about you had to look for in you tube ,you could not download from here , please ? so, i can do the same .

    I did find the above mentioned video in youtube yesterday .

    I wonder whether the moderators here can give us some answers in that regard .

    Thanks, appreciate indeed

  54. madscirat

    West hordes most of the world's resources. Sees people living in huts turn to prostitution. Wags finger condescendingly.

    Don't worry, devadasi, free market will fix you.

  55. AbdelZ

    Unbelievably disgusting , horrific .

    What a disgusting country is India really .

    They call it an economic giant : an economic giant with the feet body & soul in that horrific dirt .

    I have always been amazed at the fact that many orientalists used to praise the indian religions, philosophies ...when we do consider that outragoeus cast system ....all that hokus pokus ....

    God....

  56. Donald Edward Goodman

    All I can say is WHY do they ignore a dog that is obviously IN PAIN....Yet they worship rats and cows? I just don't understand. Of course, "hookers" are looked down on in the US. Even though the highest paid people in the world are mostly a bunch of damn pedophile's! That force sex on children. Sicko fks!

  57. Dani Joseph Priego Ackerman

    its weird you didn't put China in there.

  58. anuragawasthi

    China converted to Buddhism.

  59. Karl

    sorry "Eco"-reactionary. theres no top object: god, Nature or otherwise. time to deal with your theism called "environmentalism": Aka viewing a viscous crisis everyone is tied to with some distant, scornful eye, as if you escaped.

  60. Vijay Shinde

    This is ancient religion and we proud on our religion and culture. Garve se kao hum Hindu hain.

  61. Carlos Cisneros

    Absolutely disgusting

  62. eyecandy_babydoll

    That was disturbing, how could they pimp out their own daughters!? It gave me the creeps and made me want to cry for the little girls who have no choice in all this. My youngest sister is their age, I can't even begin to imagine selling your family off to pedophiles for a few bucks. Why doesn't the mothers of these girls prostitute themselves? Surely as a mother, if someone in the family had to suffer to provide, you'd do it instead of your 12 year old child!!! Even collecting garbage, cleaning sewers and cleaning homes are preferable to being a devadasis.

    And the real culprits are the men who continue to drive demand for devadasis! I hate it say it but as long as there are horny men with a few rupees, there will be devadasis. Shame on you sickos who prey on poor children!

  63. Abhilash Dwarakanath

    You sir, are the reason our country is still stuck in the dark ages

  64. Heather Cooper

    I had no idea this sort of thing was revered in India, I learned something new today

  65. Heather Cooper

    This makes me angry

  66. Kashif Haque

    I am from India and I did not know either.

  67. shayyan Ahmed

    This is stupid

  68. shayyan Ahmed

    An example of virtuelessness

  69. Gary

    Go back to your cave, man.

  70. Maria

    you are proud to a child abuser?

  71. kumarpradeeksha

    How can you proud of such blind believes.

  72. observe_R

    Although i strongly disagree with the practice, islam and christianity arent the best examples of alternatives to 'mediveal traditions'

  73. E.tpeace World

    Money ?

  74. Drdocwilmot

    Y was standing next to 'so what' when Mr 'who cares' walked in

  75. Daflodeo

    Many Westerners hold Eastern philosophical wisdom in high esteem and here is a culture that has been in practice long enough to have found perfection as a society but instead you find abject poverty and a caste system together creates a justification to use these poor females. It is apparent that the first casualty of Eastern philosophy and wisdom is truth.

  76. Guest

    I was about to watch this when I click play and I see a caucasian woman not from india narrating this.. No thanks! Why do they use their priveledge to did dirt about anothers culture but their own. Go film your own country.. So annoying!

  77. WhohasthePrivilege

    Praise God for intelligent free thinkers like yourself. Sure there is srange, unfamiliar happennings around the world. But im tired of seeing the same unethical practices in documenting. I dont care if i was the worlds best journalist I would have more consideration for those individuals represented.I would never film something like that to prove some kind of point.. If anything im more shocked that this kind of unethical documenting occurs all the time. When i tell my professors they don't belive that these are people with degrees and credentials doing these things. If any one is disgusted it should be of a mindset that allows people the lack of concern or responsibility of the human beings they expose on their self-serving center stage.

    And as for Amsterdam, dare we forget trafficking of women and sex tourism. hmmm

  78. Raj

    not true......i think the documentary maker should not blame other religion. if u understand hindu, please try to analyse this was badly used by some cruel people or rich people to target the poor and disadvantaged and uneducated people. dont blame our religion. please.

  79. Brian Davis

    So you're going to condemn the culture of an entire country containing well over a billion people for the practices of around 1,000 people living within that country? Where is the *math* in that? For want of a better example that'd be like branding the USA as a "unbelievably horrific", "disgusting country" because you happened to see a documentary about KKK members on YouTube one day...

  80. Jin Vorion

    I am not here to argue or discuss about God.. The above Video is all about a small village in Karnataka, India.. not only karnataka, even another 1 or 2 states. 23000 is way to exaggerated number. Few hundreds fit appropriately. Con-men and women in all the countries, irrespective of the religions. What you are seeing in that video is brain-washed people/followers of some con-men. In India, this is not a legal practice. Devadasis existed many centuries before as legal form of prostitution. That also to protect and balance the immoral acts and the culture of the people. If you look deep into our culture, you can find why these devadasis were existed. Prostitution is illegal in India, not just since 20 years, its beyond that. This is Nothing to do with Goddess Yellamma or Renuka. They are using the God's name for their profession to get validity. I DON'T BELIEVE IN THESE GODS OR CON-MEN.. I dispute their existence. I wont believe in these Gods, if I dont feel them.. Until, I don't waste my time on these Godly claims. But I am a supporter of Culture. I am from India, precisely southern part of India.

  81. mycial

    Thank you, for this documentary if a country doesn't have a functioning society in terms of business, corporations or education this will become reality. Hopefully, Americans will try to defend their country at all cost because if we don't we may be forced to sell our boys & girls just for bread on the table.

  82. mishap

    They'll never know the possibilities of the girls if they don't go to school. Many fine doctors, scientist, etc are being lost.

  83. patriot

    wow, thank you for your warning. i will run out right now and defend america at all costs, defending it against the enemies of business and corporations! god i would hate to have to sell my children for bread, because i really dont like eating bread.... i really prefer rice as a starch..

  84. Yaervalavan

    First of all, a documentary of good quality can be felt with no exaggeration. I'm from southern part of India. It is true that this practice was a part of Hindu tradition but it is abolished to great extent. The modern Hinduism do not support it in any manner and such superstitions are forced on people belongs to lower(considered) caste. To take privilege of these people, such system were built by the so called high caste priests.

  85. Guest2

    I couldn't watch this one, looking at two underage kids, so lovely, speaking about thr lives and knowing they are used for sex by adults, is too
    much for me. But then I've been sitting at my pc for far too long
    soaking up way too much of the world's issues for my health, way too
    late at night. Lost control.. I'm an information junky, and a pc-aholic, and I'm glad I don't own a tv aswell.

  86. Guest2

    Vice makes interesting documentaries, for me this is one of those I would say, despite not watching most of it

  87. Jerry

    In the documentary, Sarah Harris travels to the Indian city of Sangli to interview women whom are prostitutes in the name of their Hindu Goddess Yellemma. In this documentary, we see that most prostitutes that are interviewed live in communities and are actually financially well off. The documentary then unravels and teaches of the religious practice of Devadasi and how it became a prostitution practice. In addition, Harris goes to the annual full moon festival in Saundatti, where viewers get a glimpse of child sex trafficking. The festival is supposed to celebrate the initiation of a Devadasi devotee, however, the age average of Devadasi initiatives are decreasing. The documentary concludes with the ultimate problems that this Devadasi/prostitution system causes, such as AIDS and forced sex labor. I felt that this documentary helped gives a solid understanding to the historical background of the Devadasi and a justifiable modern context of the religion.

  88. Muralidharan

    Devadasi system prostitution has nothing to do with religion though the name of religion is used. This documentary is not fit to be among the documentary films relating to religion.

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