In India, gender discrimination has always been one of the biggest issues. There are evidences even in the history of the country about the patriarchal nature of the society and the domination of men over women. The women have always been looked down upon almost every time since ancient times and it hasn’t been ended even in this 21st century when the people are achieving new levels of educational, technical and cultural advancements. The gender discrimination is still prevalent in almost every part of the country varying on the intensity of it. Some men still consider women as inferior to them and merely as an object though it is not the case in reality.
There are many such instances which’ve taken place recently regarding the gender discrimination recently which has shown the true face of the society regarding women and the way how they’re treated by the society. The major case related to this issue recently was the Sabrimala Case in Kerala. Let us discuss this case in detail.
The Sabrimala Temple Issue
The sabrimala temple in Kerala is one of the most famous temples in Kerala which is devoted to lord Ayyaoppa. It is a thousand-year old temple but it has a rare tradition of not allowing women to enter into the temple. The priests of the temple were very strict about this and haven’t allowed any women to enter inside the temple since ages. A group of five women lawyers has challenged Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorises restriction on women “of menstruating age”.
The advocates filed the case in Kerala High court stating that the restrictions are the clear violations of Articles 14(provides for equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India), 15 (secures the citizens from every sort of discrimination by the State, on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth or any of them) and 17(“Untouchability”) of the constitution of India. She also argued that the custom is discriminatory in nature and that everyone is allowed to pray at the place of their choice including women.
There became 2 sides to this issue, one where women and other people ran hashtags and campaigns regarding the women to be allowed to enter into the sabrimala temple and that they should have the right to pray at the place of their choice and should be given equal treatment as any other male and that being a women shouldn’t be a ground for not allowing them to pray or entering inside a temple. The other side contended that it is a centuries-old traditions and that it only restricts the women of the age younger than 50 yrs. and that the women should wait until they turn 50 (because they attain menopause at this age) as it is decided by the priests and as it has been a centuries old tradition and shouldn’t be broken now.
The Court’s Decision
The case was first filed in the Kerala High Court but the court upheld the tradition of the non-entrance of women in the temple and said that only the priest has the power to decide upon the century’s old traditions. Later, the petitioners moved to the Supreme Court of India regarding the review of the decision given by the Kerala High Court. The SC on the other hand observed that this tradition is clearly discriminatory in nature for the women and that it does violates their right to pray at the place of their choice and does gender discrimination.
The other party i.e. the temple management argued that they are an independent authority to make rules for the shrine and the state isn’t allowed to interfere in the policies which they make. They also argued that this policy isn’t discriminatory in nature as the lord Ayyaoppa was himself a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (eternal celibate). The court observed that “what applies to a man applies to a woman” as well and that “once you open it for public, anyone can go”.
The bench also said that a “woman’s right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right”. It said that the a woman’s right to pray is equal to that of any man and that they shouldn’t require any law to do that it’s their constitutional right. They also said that “menstruation is not impure”. The Supreme Court gave the judgement that women of all the ages are to be allowed in the sabrimala temple.
The incident of the sabrimala temple in Kerala is one of the many instances which clearly shows that how gender discrimination prevails in all the aspects of the society even today. The customs which are made by the ancient people and forefathers were clearly discriminatory in nature for the women as there was male domination prevalent in the society at that time. They used to consider women as inferior to men and being a female as a sign of being weak. Menstruation was considered such a big taboo and was considered impure.
Menstruating women wasn’t allowed to do any chores and were given separate utensils to eat and weren’t allowed to enter into the temples or the kitchen. Even nowadays some of the households and communities practice these traditions and many temples like the sabrimala temple doesn’t allow women to enter into the temple because of just being a woman which is so discriminatory in nature. Though as the people are getting educated, the situations are really getting better and improved for the women.
Now people are realizing that there is gender discrimination and that women should be empowered and given equal status as to the men in the society. Both the genders are equal ad both can do the things which the other gender can not and it is not right and meaningful to compare both the genders to each other decide which one is better. The situations are getting better day by day for women and steps are being taken by the judiciary like that of the sabrimala verdict to curb gender discrimination, but the orthodox mentality of the society needs to get changed and the youth has to come up for this and do their part to end this discrimination once and for all.