‘Women’s Wall’ thrice the length of Singapore’s coastline is standing up against patriarchy in India

‘Women’s Wall’ thrice the length of Singapore’s coastline is standing up against patriarchy in India

  • Thousands of women came together to form a human chain and stand up against the patriarchal traditions of the Sabarimala Temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
  • The 620 km ‘Women’s Wall’ pledged to uphold ‘Renaissance values’ and to ‘stand for the equality of women’.
  • The chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan and the state’s health minister, KK Shylaja, were also a part of the peaceful protest.
  • The event is being dubbed a historic moment for feminist politics, not just in the state, but in India.
Not just the general public, but politicians and celebrities alike, rallied together as the New Year began on January 1 to stand up against the patriarchal norms of Sabarimala temple, where women of all ages were recently allowed to enter as per the Indian Supreme Court’s judgement.

The ‘Women’s Wall’ stretched across 620 kilometers, which is thrice the length of Singapore’s coastline, passing through all the districts of Kerala — a southern Indian state and the location of Sabarimala Temple.

‘Women’s Wall’ thrice the length of Singapore’s coastline is standing up against patriarchy in India

The 15-minute event is being perceived as a ‘defining’ movement for feminist politics in the country where progressive Hindu organisations also came to give their support. The men also formed a wall parallel to the ‘Women’s Wall’ to show their solidarity towards gender equality and women’s rights.
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The participants of the ‘Women’s Wall’ made a pledge at the event which read, “We are taking the pledge that we will uphold Renaissance values, we will stand for equality for women, we resist the attempts to make Kerala a lunatic asylum, and we will fight for secularism.”

‘Women’s Wall’ thrice the length of Singapore’s coastline is standing up against patriarchy in India

The peaceful protest was organised by the ruling party, CPI(M) and included members from more than 176 other socio-political organisations.

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The resistance

Even when the Sabarimala Temple was originally deemed open to women of all ages, protestors flocked to its gate in resistance. The original ‘traditions’ dictate that women between the ages of 10 to 50 years are barred from praying at Lord Ayyappa's shrine.

Since October, the local tribal community, devotees and local organisations have wreaked havoc by not allowing women of childbearing age to get past the temple’s gates.

Any women who have tried to ream past the mob in order to enter the temple has either had to turn back due to fatigue from fighting off the protestors, has been cut off from the gates from being outnumbered, or had stones thrown to keep them from progressing.
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The local police have been trying to aid the women trying to trek up to the temple, sometimes even in riot gear, but hasn’t had much luck.

According to the state’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, two women did break through the gates and prayed at the temple — but immediately after, priests shut down the hill shrine to perform ‘purification rituals’.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, appears to have taken the side of the conservative protestors. In an interview with ANI, he pointed to the fact that certain temples do not allow the entry of men, though he did not cite any specific examples.
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His political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has previously spoken out against the Supreme Court’s decision in favouring women’s equality. Even Amit Shah, the current spokesperson for BJP, has come out to state that the fight in Kerala is one between the ‘people of faith’ and an ‘oppressive’ state government. Here are some pictures from the one of the largest human chains in the world-

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For the first time ever, millions of women came up to form a human chain from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to fight for equal gender rights in India.

For the first time ever, millions of women came up to form a human chain from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to fight for equal gender rights in India.

(Image Credit-twitter/@lesbiantech)

The 620-km long women line connected the north and south end of the Indian state of Kerala.

The 620-km long women line connected the north and south end of the Indian state of Kerala.

(Image Credit- twitter/Arjun Ramakrishnan)

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So far, 5 million women have participated in the ‘Women’s Wall’ including actors like Zeenath and Usha and local political state across Kerala. It is reportedly one of the largest women gatherings across the globe.

So far, 5 million women have participated in the ‘Women’s Wall’ including actors like Zeenath and Usha and local political state across Kerala. It is reportedly one of the largest women gatherings across the globe.

(Image Credit-twitter/Arjun Ramakrishnan)

CMO Kerela tweeted, 'CM Pinarayi Vijayan warmly congratulates all who made Kerala's a great success. The 620 KM long gathering, organized to uphold the values of Kerala Renaissance, saw huge participation of women from all walks of life. This is a momentous occasion in our social life'

Even the government of Kerala has welcomed the protest by saying it doesn’t want Kerala to go back to the dark age.

Even the government of Kerala has welcomed the protest by saying it doesn’t want Kerala to go back to the dark age.

(Image Credit- twitter/CMO Kerala)

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During the assembly, the women stood by each other stretching the line through National highway 66, with several women wearing ‘kasavu mundu’-- a traditional dress.

During the assembly, the women stood by each other stretching the line through National highway 66, with several women wearing ‘kasavu mundu’-- a traditional dress.

(Image Credit- twitter/CMO Kerala)

The wall was organised to support Supreme Court of India verdict on Sabarimala temple, which bans women of menstruating age to enter the premises.

The wall was organised to support Supreme Court of India verdict on Sabarimala temple, which bans women of menstruating age to enter the premises.

(Image Credit- twitter/CMO Kerala)

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Many men also formed a wall parallel to the ‘Women’s Wall’ to show their solidarity towards gender equality and women’s rights.

Many men also formed a wall parallel to the ‘Women’s Wall’ to show their solidarity towards gender equality and women’s rights.

(Image Credit- twitter/Deepa Kurup)

Some of the opposing political parties have termed the ‘Women’s Wall’ a failure because it did not include participation from semi-urban and rural areas.

Some of the opposing political parties have termed the ‘Women’s Wall’ a failure because it did not include participation from semi-urban and rural areas.

(Image Credit- twitter/KaciJeans)

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