India’s Supreme Court recently lifted a ban on menstruating women entering one of the country’s most prominent Hindu Temples. The Sabarimala temple in Kerala, India, specifically banned women of menstruating age, ranging in ages from 10 to 50 years old. Hinduism views women on their periods as being unclean and prevents them from entering a temple.
The 4-1 ruling is the latest progressive move by the court, with a decriminalization of gay sex taking place this past summer. The centuries-old ban was the latest in the last two years to be lifted, with the Hindu Shani Shingnapur temple and the Muslim Haji Ali shrine lifting their gender-based bans in 2016. On this ruling, Chief Justice Dipak Misra stated that “there cannot be any discrimination on the basis of gender,” while his colleague Justice D.Y. Chandrachud added that religion shouldn’t be used to deny women the right to worship.
The lone dissenter and the only woman on the bench was female Justice Indu Malhotra, who argued that “religious practices cannot be solely tested on the basis of the right to equality,” and thinks that worshippers, not the court, should be the ones to decide on matters involving religious practices.
Since the ruling, many protesters, including women, have gone to great lengths to prevent women of menstruating age from entering the temple. They have blocked and violently attacked these female worshipers, as they vehemently oppose the court’s ruling.
The Realist Woman’s take:
There are so many things to unpack in this story. For one, I cannot imagine not being able to worship in a church due to the fact that I was on my period. So the fact that India’s Supreme Court saw through the ridiculousness of this archaic practice, with the result being that women can now be invited in, is amazing.
I would love to focus on the positives of this story, but the only thing I can think about is the fact that the court’s lone female judge was the only one to rule against this! And that the protesters attacking and blocking women of menstruating age from entering the temple are women! This goes to show you that some women will always vote to stay in chains. Throughout history, women have always been complicit in keeping this patriarchal world exactly where it is. It’s shameful.