Activists Happy With Sabarimala Entry, Raise Safety Issues

Sabarimala Case

The Supreme Court on Friday gave a historic judgment, allowing women of all ages to enter the inner sanctum of the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. This has brought joy to scores of women who always wanted to go to the temple but couldn’t because of the regressive rule that disallowed women of menstruating age from entering the temple and performing the 52 days of Vratham. Women activists have welcomed this judgment of the Supreme Court and are all praise for the justices for considering women’s equal position in the society.

Trupti Desai, who fought for women’s right to enter the Shani Shignapur Temple in Nashik, spoke to SheThePeople.TV and said, “Today’s verdict of Supreme Court in favour of women is an extremely crucial one and it is a victory for women. People have for centuries deemed women impure because of menstruation and given us a secondary position but today, they will understand that temples and places of faith are nobody’s personal property. Everybody should have the right to enter temples and pray. When the god doesn’t discriminate, then who are these people to discriminate? It was a wrong mindset and the Constitution has proved it today.”

Desai is positive that this judgment will encourage women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple. She said: “When we entered the inner sanctum of the Shani Shignapur temple, people said that not many women would want to enter the temple, but today, thousands of women go there and pray.”

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“We welcome the SC’s judgment to recognize women’s equal right to places of worship. Earlier, the Sabarimala Temple rules had barred women between the ages of 10 and 50 years from entering the temple on account of antiquated notions of impurity associated with menstruation and other similar notions. The court has held that it is unconstitutional to restrain women from pursuing their right to worship on physiological grounds. It also held that keeping women out is against their dignity,” said Mariam Dhawale, General Secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association.

Dhawale also talked about the fact that the only dissenting justice in the five-judge constitutional bench was a woman—Justice Indu Malhotra. “We would have been delighted if she did not dissent to the judgment, but finally the majority judgment holds. It should not have happened, but anyway the judge is entitled to have her own opinion,” she said.

Dalit activist and political analyst, Cynthia Stephen, said, “It is rather telling of the judge because at one level, women’s conservatism has also had a role to play. It is possible that she felt as a woman that she did not want to break the age-old tradition.”

“Safety is a huge issue everywhere in the current times. So I feel that the temple, whether they will do it reluctantly or not, should prepare to ensure safety for women,” – Cynthia Stephen

Stephen also noted that she has mixed feelings about the judgment. She said that there are so many bigger things that require our attention as far as women’s rights go. “But I am sure there are lots of women who will celebrate this judgment. The principle of having access — whether or not they use it — is something women will feel happy about.”

She also pointed out the important issue of safety now that women will enter Sabarimala temple. “Safety is a huge issue everywhere in the current times. So I feel that the temple, whether they will do it reluctantly or not, should prepare to ensure safety for women. I know that while women will celebrate this judgment, it wouldn’t incur the same reaction from the men who believe in the traditional ways of the religion.”

Picture credit- The Hindu

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