In a bid to end India’s widespread drought, six young girls have reportedly been forced to take off their clothes and forced to house-to-house naked in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh.
Locals following an ancient Indian superstition made the little girls parade through the village naked with a frog riding on a wooden shaft that was balanced on their shoulders.
As they walked through the village, women walked beside them singing songs of praise to the rain god.
The girls stopped at each house and begged for foodstuffs, such as bread and flour, which was then donated to a bhandara, or community kitchen, that had been set up in front of the village temple.
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Damoh District Collector S. Krishna Chaitanya told reporters that the girls' parents had given permission for their children to take part in the horrific ritual and in some cases had even joined in.
He said that there was little that local government can do in these cases.
"The administration can only make the villagers aware about the futility of such superstition and make them understand that such practices don’t yield desired results," he said.
Nevertheless, a major Indian children’s rights group, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, has demanded a full explanation from local government officials.
Superintendent of police Damoh DR Teniwar told local reporters that the incident is under investigation and said there could be prosecutions if police find evidence that "the girls were forced to go naked".
Currently, India should be in the midst of its Monsoon season, but the rainfall has been at least 10% less than expected and 36% of India by acreage has not received adequate rainfall, according to data from the India Meteorological Department
Even without the bizarre magical ritual, help is on the way though. According to weather forecasters, the severe drought, which has left some 30% of the country with inadequate rainfall, is expected to ease later this month.
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