Wed, Jan 09, 2019 - Page 9 News List

Indian women formed a wall of protest in landmark movement

By Snigdha Poonam

Indeed the best way for women of menstrual age to enter Sabarimala would be through bottom-up social and religious reform. The most stinging critique of the Supreme Court order came from a survey that showed 75 percent of people in Kerala disagreed with the decision.

Claims were also made that the interests of a handful of leftist activists trying to enter the temple were at odds with the beliefs of the majority of Kerala’s ordinary women, who preferred the status quo.

However, the sight of the 620km “women’s wall” — one of the largest-ever congregations of women in the world — has rekindled hopes for a genuine movement.

Standing shoulder to shoulder along the highways was a wide range of women — young and old, rural and urban, farmers and doctors, activists and actors — taking the pledge to fight for gender equality.

Early the next morning, two women — Bindu Hariharan, 42, and Kanaka Durga, 44 — went to Sabarimala. They had visited the temple on Dec. 24, but were prevented from entering by rioting protesters. They had said they would get in — and sure enough, on this occasion, they got in.

Snigdha Poonam is a national affairs writer at the Hindustan Times and the author of Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing the World.

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