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Mathamma: The Mother Goddess| 26mins
Director: Parthiban Shanmugam | Producer: Parthiban Shanmugam
Focus Years: 2008 | Country: United States
Subject Tags: americas, asia, belief, gender, human rights, india, race, religion, united states
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
In the South Indian State of Andhra Pradesh, a young girl named Meena is raised in a long-entrenched tradition of community-sanctioned abuse. As a lower-caste girl, Meena can be forced into the role of a Mathamma (or Sacred Mother), a living goddess, and sexually abused by male villagers for blessings. As an adult, Meena fears for her own daughter Radha's safety. Village heads continue to forcibly select new Mathammas, usually between the ages of seven and 13. These girls are then publicly auctioned to men, and then dedicated to a life of sexual abuse. Afterwards, the Mathamma moves from home to home, where wives make way for her to share their beds with their husbands, considering the child rape a godly act. The HIV prevalence in these villages is unknown, but in the fall of 1995, Andra Pradesh reported an HIV infection rate of one in every two hundred people. Exposing the dark side of ancient traditions through the example of one victimized family, Mathamma leaves no stone unturned in speaking for the injustices committed in the name of faith.

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Parthiban Shanmugam

United States


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