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Children 'dedicated' as temple prostitutes

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"When we came to the village, these little girls--only four or five years old--started pulling our hands, wanting us to go to their mothers," says Arun Massey, director of Rahab's Trust, an indigenous ministry in India that works with temple prostitutes. "Whoever gets more customers will get more food. When the mothers entertain men in their small rooms, the children sleep underneath the bed. They are like pimps for their mothers. Can you imagine that?"

For more than six years, Arun and his wife, Shobha, have been ministering to the women known as devadasi: women serving as temple prostitutes as well as the young girls dedicated to a Hindu goddess and set apart for future prostitution.

"These parents dedicate their daughters to a goddess because there is physical sickness or family problems or financial problems," says Arun. "They believe they are under the curse of the goddess."

These young girls, as young as four years old, stand in the temple where a "wedding" ceremony is held . . . with a statue of an idol as the bridegroom.

"When the girl gets to be 12 or 13 years old, she is not supposed to marry anybody because she is 'married' to the idol," according to Arun. "But she can satisfy any man's lust. This is considered her duty."

The girls and women face many problems including sexually transmitted diseases and having children out of wedlock.

"They will have so many children," says Arun, "but the children will have no father."

And that is where Arun's ministry comes in.

"When the prostitute gets to be 35 years old or so she will look very old and not be able to attract men. They will introduce their own daughters into this (prostitution) system so they can earn money and support the family."

Since it is often hard to get the prostitutes themselves to change their lives because of a lack of education and no job skills, the ministry rescues the children from following in their mothers' footsteps. They have opened a home for these children, providing them medical care, food, an education, and accommodations.

"This way we can break the cycle," says Arun. "We teach them some skill so they can earn money to help support the family." The ministry presently has 38 girls from one year old to 13.

"We need so much prayer support to break Satan's hold," Arun says.

Sometimes the ministry workers are even able to rescue a grown woman.

"I have been serving this goddess as a temple prostitute for many, many years but all the goddess has given me is poverty, sickness, and misery," a prostitute told Shobha during a visit.

"I told her she could serve the Lord Jesus Christ, not as a prostitute, but as a child of God," says Shobha. "She then accepted Christ and set fire to all her idols in full view of the whole village."

For more information on this ministry, or to find out how you can help, write to insider@christianaid.org and put 630RHT-MI-225 in the subject line, or visit our website at http://www.christianaid.org.

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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Asia » India » Children 'dedicated' as temple prostitutes