Everyday we attack the dirt of our body with a soap, the dust of our home with a broom and the wastes of our country with a Swachh Bharat Abihiyan. But why do we do so? Is it because we hate our body, our home and our country? No, it is only because we love our body, love our home and love our country. Similarly, when we criticize any practice of gender discrimination like Sati, triple talaq or banishing women for forty long prime years of their lives from the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, it is only because we want to clean prejudices for a better tomorrow. Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo had profound regard for our country. That was the reason why they had very categorically criticized our prejudices, practices, myths and superstitions. They did it because of their love for the people of our country. As parents often criticize the wrong doings of their own children out of care and love for them. The Supreme Court of India must be congratulated for quashing the centuries-old ban on women entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala in their menstrual age from 10 to 50 years. The Khetra Samrakshana Samiti told the five – judge Constitution Bench that the judges should not stop the religious practice of restricting the entry of women between the age 10 and 50 years into the Sabarimala temple.
Representing the group, their lawyer said, “Any interference with the age-old custom will result in another Ayodhya and will create social tension in Kerala.”
But the Bench rightly responded to this with the comment, “Your custom must stand the test of constitutional provisions.”We have Fundamental Constitutional Right to Equality. Article 17 of our Constitution says, “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.”We see that the practice of Sabarimala temple of enforcing disability and ban on women during the age of their menstrual cycle is nothing short of labelling women of that age group as untouchables so far as the entry into the temple is concerned. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud has rightly said, “Prejudice against women based on notions of impurity and pollution associated with menstruation is a symbol of exclusion. The social exclusion of women, based on menstrual status, is but a form of untouchability, which is anathema to constitutional values.”However, such a ban is not only against constitutional values but also ridiculous. If women are to be treated as untouchables for the menses then we all need to be treated as such as women during that very period of their lives gave birth to all of us. To despise women in general and to despise their period in particular are nothing but to despise our very birth and our lifeblood.
Indeed, such a primitive attitude of demeaning our own birth keeps a woman in quarantine before she goes into labour.
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