August 21, 2008

Nepalese ‘Living Goddess’ School-Bound

A young girl being worshiped in Nepal as a "living goddess" may leave her palace home and attend school with others her age, a court has ruled.

Prompted by a legal complaint that argued a young girl's rights shouldn't be violated by locking her in a palace to be worshiped by others, the Supreme Court ruled that 9-year-old Preeti Shakya should have a public education, The Times of London said Thursday.

The "living goddess" tradition in Nepal involves choosing a young girl to serve as "goddess," otherwise known as the Kumari, until she begins to menstruate. Until that time, the girl's life consists of living in a Kathmandu palace and being the target of worship.

Supreme Court spokesman Hemanta Rawal told The Times the court's ruling came after it was unable to find any "historic or religious documents" that supported the practice.

"The court ruled there were no historic or religious documents that state the child should be denied the rights of education, movement, etc," Rawal said. "She should not be denied these things just because she is the Kumari."