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Indian Women Protest Ban on Entering Temples During Their Periods

Via video screenshot
Via video screenshot
Hindu and Muslim women in India are bringing a taboo subject to light and fighting to enter buildings of worship regardless of their menstrual cycle.

Menstruation is a taboo in Indian culture and a group of Indian women are not shying from this topic. These women are speaking publicly after Prayar Gopalakrishnan, board president, Sabarimala Temple, spoke in favor of limiting women aged from 10 years to 50 years from entering the shrine. He said that a woman will be permitted to go inside the temple only after a machine to check whether a woman is menstruating or not is invented. His comments brought criticism from a number of quarters. It also ignited a Facebook campaign utilizing the #HappyToBleed hashtag.

Indian Women Protest Ban on Entering Temples During Their Periods #HappyToBleed[/tweetthis]

This discrimination against women is not limited to Hindu temples only. Females suffer discrimination in Islam too. The Haji Ali Muslim shrine in Mumbai forbids women to enter the inner shrine, but are allowed to visit other parts of the mosque. The shrine remains off limits to women only as they menstruate.

Noorjehan Niaz, co-founder of Bharatita Muslim Mahila Andolan (translated to Indian Muslim Women's Movement) demanded that the ban on women imposed by the Haji Ali authorities should be lifted. She pointed out that the womb was the starting points of saints as well. It is expected that a verdict will be announced by the Mumbai high court on January 18. In case the judges rule the lifting of the ban, it will be a precedent for many others who fight discrimination targeted at women in places where the Gods are worshiped.

Churches are the only religious places in India where both sexes enjoy equal rights when it came to worship. Discrimination in mosques and temples are normal. A Hindu temple located in Maharashtra- a state in India- suspended its seven security guards in November. The reason for their dismissal is they could not stop a female devotee to step on a platform which held her preferred idol. The temple priests subsequently held a “purification” ceremony to clean it of the “pollution” that women have caused.

The Sabarimala temple is just one of the many holy places present in the world which bars fertile women from its precincts. The idea behind this practice is that the natural biological system of menstruation makes the woman unclean and impure.

For women and girls resident in rural areas, even worse conditions exist. Many women remain secluded from their families in the duration of their cycle. What's worse, about 70 percent use ash, rags and husk to stop menstrual flow due to taboos.


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