Hajj is considered to be one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim is expected to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime, if they can afford so. There are certain rules and regulations to be followed while on Hajj. Due to a rule modification about 86% Kerala women have applied to go on Hajj. The Key highlights of Hajj this year, now are:

  • Following a rule modified for the Hajj period 2018-22, more women have enrolled themselves to go for Hajj without a Meharam. A Meharam in Islam is a person in front of whom, a woman can take of her hijaab. A womam’s Meharam can be the person related to her through close blood relations, or the one related to her by marriage or through breastfeeding.
  • Of 2340 women who are going on Hajj without a male companion (Meharam), 2011 are from Kerala. This constitutes 86% of women going without a Meharam.

According to the Hajj Policy 2013-17 by the Ministry Of External Affairs, every women had to be accompanied by their Mehrams. This requirement is imposed by the Islamic Shariah and applies to all women from all over the world. However, in the Hajj Policy 2018-22, the condition of women being accompanied by their Mehrams was slightly modified. According to the new rules, the conditions applies only to women below 45 years of age, and for women above 45 years, might travel in a group of 4 or more women.

Following this, a number of applications came in for women who would travel without Mehrams. In 2018, 1340 women had applied to visit Saudi without a Mehram. This year, 2340 of them have applied. However, one thing comes in common for them, i.e., largest number of women who are travelling to Saudi for Hajj without Meharam come from Kerala. Last year 1124 and this year, 86% of women travelling to Saudi without Meharam are from Kerala.

Interestingly, more women than men have applied for Hajj from Kerala. There are about 6959 women (with or without Meharam) and 4513 men. Collectively there are around 11,000 pilgrims from the state.

Role Of Literacy And Gender Parity

A Kerala Hajj Committee Officer attributed the high number of women travelling to Saudi without Mehram to the high literacy rate and gender parity prevalent in Kerala. According to the Census 2011, Kerala and Puducherry are the only two states with sex ratio more than 0.99. The sex ratio in Kerala is 1.084 that is, 1084 females per 1000 males. However, the national sex ratio stands at 0.940, i.e., 940 females per 1000 males.

Also, Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India. According to the 2011 Census, the literacy rate in Kerala stands at 93.91. However, the national Literacy rate stands at 74.04%. Literacy rate is the percentage of literates to the total population of age 7 years or above.

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Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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