I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved. – B R Ambedkar
It’s been a while since I wrote a post on women’s issues. Of late, have been really distressed to hear and read all the disturbing news regarding the “women’s entry” into the Sabarimala Temple. As a very liberal and South Indian woman – here’s my opinion:
I actually find it very ridiculous that some activists believe that entry into the Sabarimala Temple is one of the main burning issues for Indian women today. Really?!! I believe that Indian women have free access to more than a million temples within India and there are no restrictions whatsoever!! I have never been restricted from entering any temple in all the decades of my life. Neither have I ever been stopped in a temple and asked regarding my menstruating status.
Sabarimala is an exception due to a legend and traditions – and therefore not the norm. So why are we generalizing from an “outlier” and getting agitated over it, without understanding it? I agree that there’s a lot of stigma regarding menstruation, and it exists across communities – but we can address the issue in a more sensible manner without hurting sentiments and making it unnecessarily contentious.
As progressive citizens and reformers, before we decide to pick a particular issue – we need to ask ourselves how important it is, how much good it will do, and execute it in a manner that doesn’t unnecessarily cause distress and damage – if possible. Otherwise, no one really benefits and we’re actually squandering a lot of energy and time, and hurting the cause 🙁
There are much bigger and more pressing issues like female foeticide, infanticide, dowry deaths, rapes and, harassment in workplaces that should be addressed. We need to think of ways in how our education system could be revamped to change regressive and misogynistic attitudes. We might need to amend or bring in new laws…….we don’t need to forcibly enter outlier temples to achieve that.
In contrast, the fight for women’s equality can be a great way to overcome the barriers of religion, caste and, community because it’s important for each and everyone one of us. Let’s not squander the opportunity by making it trivial, violent and politically contentious.
Let’s also stop a while and rethink whether we’re right in prescribing a pilgrimage to Sabarimala as the magic pill for all the problems that an Indian woman faces today? Also, don’t we need to be “cultured”, mindful, respectful and tolerant in our battles? All temples, Ashrams and religious institutions have some rules that might seem unwarranted and weird – but adherents follow them out of faith and respect. We need to fight or question those only if the battle is worthwhile. Otherwise, we may win a battle but end up losing the war 🙁
There are so many better and more intelligent ways of fighting for women’s rights that would be much more effective and less troublesome. Hope you agree 🙂 🙂
Here are some interesting articles related to the subject. For example, there’s a religious island in Greece (Mount Athos) that totally bans women – including non-menstruating women and female animals as well – more rigid than even Sabarimala!! But, would forcibly entering that island solve any problems for women or result in global “emancipation”? I don’t think so – because again, it’s an “outlier” and not the norm. I’d like to end by stating that these are my current views but that I’m open-minded and willing to entertain other viewpoints 🙂 😉