Mandalam season is all set to arrive at the Sabarimala temple located in Kerala from November 17 to 30. And while women’s entry is again going to be a questionable issue as the Supreme Court’s decision on the review petition on their entry is awaited, it has been made clear that there is not going to be even a single woman paramedic or doctors posted in devotees camps to attend to the medical needs of the pilgrims.

The Director of Medical Education (DME) and the Director of Health Services (DHS) have drawn up an all-male list of approximately 1000 men including 330 doctors who will be sent to the temple in smaller groups this year. The DME has selected male cardiologists and general practitioners from government medical college hospitals who will be sent to the various base camps of the temple including Pampa, Neelimala, Appachimedu and the Sannidhanam.

ALSO READ: Women Activists Seeking Sabarimala Entry Earlier To Skip It This Year

Each batch of doctors will stay there for seven days and the paramedics for a period of two weeks. The DME had asked for a list of male doctors and paramedics from the Principals of nine government medical colleges, including the ones in Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Thrissur, and Kozhikode. Apart from them, the State Health Service will also accompany the other doctors.

DME A. Remla Beevi confirmed the availability of only male doctors on this duty at the temple during the temple gates opening period and said that for now women doctors aren’t allowed to join the male doctors because of the challenging circumstances of their deployment.

“Women will need special care. They have to be provided with better infrastructure facilities, including accommodation. Their safety also needed to be considered. Women doctors will be given the assignment after ensuring all the required facilities are in place,” Beevi said, The Hindu reported. A DHS senior official also stated that recruitment of women requires a government order to be obtained.

ALSO READ: Sabarimala Row: Temple Board’s Volte Face Doesn’t End The Matter

In October last year, two women doctors of the Kerala government attended a review meeting called by Devasom (temple affairs) minister Kadakampally Surendran on the Sabarimala shrine premises. Kerala Public Health Department additional director KJ Reena and deputy director Meenakshi trekked all the way to Sabarimala to attend the meeting amidst severe protests. While the SC allowed them to visit the shrine, devotees continued protests on their visit. The doctors responded that the protests don’t make sense since they are over 50 years of age and they would return after paying their respect to the deity.

“Women will need special care. They have to be provided with better infrastructure facilities, including accommodation. Their safety also needed to be considered. Women doctors will be given the assignment after ensuring all the required facilities are in place”

Since the Supreme Court declared that disallowing women of menstruating ages from entering the Sabarimala temple offends their fundamental rights last year in September, several women tried to enter the temple last year during the Mandalam season. However, huge protests and public outrage engulfed the state because of women wanting to enter the temple. While the apex court accepted a review petition on its judgement the next month after its landmark judgment, it hasn’t given any verdict on it yet. And as the Mandalam season beckons this year, the temple premises and base camps are going to be on high alerts because of the impending protests.

Picture credit: The Hindu

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