On the 1st of January, women within the state of Kerala decided enough was enough. The recently revoked law of women at a ‘menstruating age’ was forbidden to access the Sabarimala shrine, has attracted violent protesters; the woman usually banned being between the ages of 10-50.
Despite this being overturned by India’s high court in September, there have been many protests against women attempting to enter. The faith of Hinduism had viewed menstruating women as unclean and attempted to ban their involvement within religious rituals. Many temples prevented menstruating women from entering. In protests against these attacks, women began to form what they named the ‘woman’s wall’, where women from various areas of Kerala had formed a chain stretching from the North of Kasaragod to the south in Thiruvananthapuram.
The chain itself was recorded to be around 620lkm and was organised by the states left-wing coalition government. This event illustrates a key development within Indian politics, that led up to India’s general election, this will take place between April and May. The current Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused by some for leading through a religiously divisive system.
Many argue this fight for equality is one that India, like so many other countries need; it’s viewed as preventing their culture or religion from oppressing women from practising their faith due to a biological process of the female body; one which is both natural and unfitting with the teachings rooted within Hindu belief. However, others argue that this is removing traditional Hindu values, or that in fact gender equality already exists.
It’s claimed that over 15 thousand people were arrested for their violence towards the women trying to enter the Sabarimala Temple.
The debate this brings forward once again is how far do we allow cultural and religious ideals to govern our laws. Many argue that despite religious practices still going on around the world, many of their beliefs or treatment of women are old fashioned and unable to function in our modern society without causing some form of oppression.
However, whilst women fight the supposed oppression others are asking how far we see ourselves are pushing our Westernised ideas of society onto that of others, such as our response to Islamic ideas of arranged marriages, which in some cases have led to the horrific treatment of young girls, it’s also a big part of Islamic culture.
Are these belief’s just a different way of living to our own or is this just the beginning of uncovering the vast amount of female oppression still existing within different cultures and beliefs?