Shravya's Story


Shravya* comes from an impoverished family. Her father earns a daily wage as a farmer and woodcutter. Her mother also works as a farm labourer. After rescue, Shravya told social workers that her father had recently given her a mala (flower garland) to wear around her neck like the ones worn by the women from the Devadasi community, a community that dedicates its women and girls to temple prostitution.


During Shravya's rescue, her attachment to her brothel keeper was very evident. Shravya seemed new to the area and was very timid and scared. At the police station, she looked to the brothel keeper for answers whenever she was asked a question. On the way to the observation home she kept inquiring about her brothel keeper. Shravya must have been convinced that her perpetrator was her protector.


Shravya told the police officer that she suffers from severe headaches and she made a statement defining herself as 'mad.' Indeed, Shravya did not appear to be mentally sound. She is a very innocent, sweet girl and finds it difficult to communicate.


During an investigation of Shravya's home environment, social workers learned that Shravya had been dedicated to the Devadasi because no one wanted to marry a mentally challenged girl. They also learned that though Shravya's father said she was 20-years-old, she was actually about 16 or 17. The family told the social workers that Shravya now lived with her aunt, Hanumavva, as her parents were doing seasonal work elsewhere. According to Hanumavva, she brought Shravya to live with her because Shravya could not take care of herself on her own. Shravya did not bathe, brush her teeth, or engage in any activity when left on her own at her father's house. With Hanumavva, Shravya was learning to wash clothes and dishes as well as other household tasks. When we asked about Shravya's condition after rescue, Hanumavvaa said that Shravya is scared of men and cries sometimes.


When social workers went to visit Shravya again, they found her caring for a small baby. Reltaives said that the baby was Shravya's sister and their mother died while giving birth. Since Shravya is mentally disabled, she is unable to work, but busies herself in caring for her younger sister.


*name changed to protect identity

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811 N.Kansas Ave,

E.Wenatchee, WA 98802

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