“The Holy Wives” is a journey through the life and struggle of Devadasis in Karnataka, Mathammas in Andhra Pradesh and Bedinies in Madhya Pradesh.
A few decades ago, women from certain castes were made wives of god in some parts of India. They were called by the names Devadasis, Jogins, Basavis, Kalawants, Paravatis or Mathammas. These wives of God lived in or around the temples.They had to perform duties at the temples and participate in the religious functions. Even after the system was banned in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, life remains the same for them. The children from these communities are still being trafficked to the flesh market.
Besides, prostitution was turned into a traditional trade in the case of Bedini system in Madhya Pradesh, a nomadic de-notified community. A majority of women in this community remain unmarried and engage in prostitution for to eke out a living.Absence of an alternative means of income and the acceptance of the practice within the community has made it inevitable for the young Bedia girls into this trade.The girls between the age group of 13 or 14 get in to prostitution through an open auction in the village which is called Nathutharai and Siridakai.
Girls are forced to have sex with an upper caste man when they are made jogamma,mathamma or bedini. What follows is a life of sexual slavery, they become sanctified prostitutes.
The film ‘The holy wives’ documents the life of a woman, who is raped in the name of tradition even before she could understand the meaning of sex and the impoverished life that she leads till death. It also goes deep into the struggle a woman from this community forges to maintain her dignity and self-respect.
This film brings out the lives of three different communities who have been victimized in the name of caste based sexual exploitation in this country through the stories of their life, struggle and their dreams of a dignified life for their children.