Indian Women Continue Their Struggle to Access Temples

Last week, around five million Indian women formed the “Women’s Wall” in the southern state of Kerala to draw attention to their continued fight to have equal access to religious sites. The five million woman wall stretched 620 kilometers or 385 miles across Kerala, India.

Women in India are not allowed to visit certain temples between the ages of 10-50, considered “menstruating age.” Hinduism regards menstruating women as “unclean” and prevents them from entering religious sites as well as participating in religious rituals. While most temples allow women to enter as long as they are not on their period, the Sabarimala temple—one of the holiest temples for Hindus—has historically banned women of menstruating age.

In September of 2018, India’s Supreme Court revoked the ban and ruled that women must be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple. The ruling was issued after a petition argued that the tradition was violating the constitution of the country, which guarantees equality to both men and women. Although the long-standing ban was overturned months ago, men have continued to attack women who try to enter the temple.

Women in India began to publicly protest and demand the right to pray in 2016. Since then, women have earned the right to enter and participate in three religious sites. The Sabarimala temple is the third religious site where courts have intervened to overturn a ban. Shani Shinapur was another temple where courts directed authorities to grant women the right to enter. Haji Ali mosque, a religious site for Muslims, also was forced to allow women inside.

Media Resources: BBC News 1/1/19, 9/28/18

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