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Happy To Bleed: Menstruating women ‘impure’ comment launches Facebook campaign

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source: countercurrents.org

Prayar Gopalakrishnan, the new Travancore Devaswom Board President, raised uproar amongst women all over India when he said at the Kollam Press Club on November 13, that women would be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala only after a machine was invented which checked whether it was the “right time” for them to do so.

“A time will come when people will ask if all women should be disallowed from entering the temple throughout the year. These days there are machines that can scan bodies and check for weapons. There will be a day when a machine is invented to scan if it is the ‘right time’ (not menstruating) for a woman to enter the temple. When that machine is invented, we will talk about letting women inside,” he said, according to Newsminute.

He also called to increase the security measures so that no menstruating women could covertly enter the Sabarimala temple.

To protest against this patriarchal ruling and in a move to abolish menstrual taboos, women have come together in a Facebook “counter campaign” Happy To Bleed, which has gained nationwide popularity.

The statement on the Facebook page says that by his statement, Gopalakrishnan “has reinforced misogyny and strengthened myths that revolve around women”.

The campaign asks women to “oppose the shame game played by the patriarchal society since ages” and asks them to “hold placards/sanitary napkins/charts saying Happy to Bleed” and post the pictures on the campaign page or their profiles.

The main aim behind the campaign is to make periods a normal phenomenon, something every woman goes through, and to convince girls over the world that it doesn’t make them impure.

Nikita Azad, a student and gender rights’ activist from Punjab, who hosts the event, penned an open letter to Gopalakrishnan, where she posed several questions on his comment and its underlying significance.

“I am sorry. I was not able to end the blood flowing out of my body. I am not able to end my curse, which I obtained by participating in the murder of a Brahmin (that’s what the historical justification of menstruation is). Blood flows out. It is my fault, right?” Azad wrote.

“I was told that my egg must fertilise with a man’s sperm chosen by society. If I dare choose the sperm on my own, I will be disowned. Similarly, you have decided that I should not bring my polluted blood inside the temple. But, which God gave somebody the right to choose what I do with my blood?” she added.

Azad also questioned Gopalakrishnan’s right in calling the Sabarimala temple his own: “By which authority, do you call Sabrimala temple, your temple? By what authority, do you decide that I cannot enter the temple?”

Azad signed off the letter as “A young, bleeding woman”.

The Facebook Happy to Bleed page is resplendent with photos of women protesting against this sexism.

aditi gupta
source: Facebook

“I have a uterus and I bleed once every-month. God does not get angry if I pray during my periods. Mr Prayar Gopalakrishnan and everyone who thinks women are impure during their periods, don’t forget it’s the same ‘Impurity’ you survived on for 9 months inside your mother’s womb,” said Aditi Gupta, co-founder of menstrupedia.com, on Facebook.

Menstruating women, considered impure, have always been denied entry into the Sabarimala temple.

“Not allowing women and girls post puberty is a traditional custom followed by Sabarimala temple and it has been upheld by the High Court and Supreme Court. It is not discrimination, this is differentiation. In Attukal temple only women make pongala, men are not allowed, same way every temple has its own tradition,” social activist and member of the Sabarimala tantric family, Rahul Eashwar told Newsminute.

Senior lawyer Sudha Ramalingam, one of the women activists decrying the comment said: “I can’t comprehend this. How can a machine determine the purity of women and what is the standard? How can a machine judge the purity of women? How scientific is it?” quoted Newsminute.

“It seems to be ridiculous. I am against the view that menstruating women are impure. People must first understand what woman and womanhood is and must talk with sensitivity,” she added.

Poet and activist Ravi Shankar pointed out: “There could also be a machine that scans and finds out whether men have led a celibate, teetotaler, vegetarian life for 41 days before entering the temple. This will help reducing the crowd by 90 per cent,” pointed out poet and activist Ravi Shankar.

It’s high time such misogynistic taboos concerning periods were done away with once and for all. In a country where the majority follows Hinduism—a faith which worships thousands of goddesses, where the Kamakhya devi –the bleeding goddess—is worshipped in Assam, one must understand that it is an utterly natural bodily function, something that indicates that a woman can give birth. A process which marks one as a giver of life must certainly never be singled out as a point of shame, as a point of unnecessary discrimination.

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“By Burning Manusmriti, We Are Burning Discrimination”: 10 Shocking Verses About Women from the Ancient Text

While part of it looks at women as the equivalent of a goddess, the other part of Manusmriti creates a rather redundant image of women

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Manusmriti is also known as Manu Dharma Shastra.
Manusmriti is an ancient legal text of the Hindu dharma that spells out duties, rights, laws conducts, virtues and others for men and women. (representational image) Wikimedia
  • Manusmriti, also known as Manav Dharmashastra, loosely translates to the codes man must live by
  • It is believed to hold the divine Hinduism code of conduct
  • While Manusmriti has enriched the Hindu culture, it has also tied down women under reigns of intolerance

New Delhi, August 6, 2017: Time and again, women are asked to adhere to the various roles and the principles set for us, ‘for our own good’. We are asked to keep our heads low and our voices lower. We are told to restrict ourselves to the boundaries of our houses, and our opinions within the confines of our mind. These codes of conduct are embedded in the Hindu dharma, and compiled together as the Manusmriti.

Since centuries, women have been the subject of judgments. There have been countless opinions about women- all based on regressive fallacy.

Being a woman in a world where sexism forms an integral part can be quite wearisome. There are some things that a man will never hear, but women and young girls alike, have heard them enough times.

On one hand where the world thinks of India as rich in culture and heritage, little do they know it is this same culture that has, since ancient times, embedded a deeply skewed perception of the Indian women.

In an attempt to trace the origin of this retrogressive attitude attached to women, we came across the Manusmriti.

According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is believed to be the word of Lord Brahma, and is classified as the most commanding declaration on Dharma. Hindu defenders consider the Manusmriti or laws of Manu as the divine Hinduism code of conduct, and accordingly the status of women as depicted in the text has been interpreted as Hindu divine law.

You may come across one of the most famous verses of the Manusmriti – “yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta” (at places where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside in that household)

However, in its shade, the Hindu apologists often forget the verses that reek of outrageous abhorrence, discrimination, and bigotry against women-

 

  1. Women, true to their character, are capable to lead men- learned and fool, astray, making them both slaves of desire.

 

  1. Wise people should avoid sitting alone with one’s mother, daughter or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation.

 

  1. Wise men should only marry women who are free from bodily defects, with beautiful names, grace/gait like an elephant, moderate hair on the head and body, soft limbs and small teeth.

 

  1. A Brahman, a true defender of his class, should not have his meals in the company of his wife and even avoid looking at her. Furthermore, he should not look towards her when she is having her meals when she sneezes/yawns.
Manu's laws view women in a redundant manner.
Manusmriti or Manu’s Laws are regarded as the dharmic codes of conduct for Hindus. Wikimedia
  1. One should not accept meals by a woman who has extra-marital relationships, nor from a family exclusively dominated/managed by women or a family whose 10 days of impurity because of death have not passed.
  1. A female child, young woman or even an old woman is not supposed to work independently, even at her own residence.

 

  1. Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married, and under the custody of her son as widows. Under no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself as independent.
Manusmriti is belived to hold the codes of conduct for Hindus.
According to Manusmriti, a woman has to worship her husband regardless of what he does, and has to pay heed to his commands. (representational image) Wikimedia
  1. Men may be lacking virtue, be sexual perverts, immoral and devoid of any good qualities, and yet women must constantly worship and serve their husbands.

 

  1. Because of their passion for men, immutable temper, and natural heartlessness, they are not loyal to their husbands.

 

  1. While performing namkarm and jatkarm, Vedic mantras are not to be recites by women, as they are lacking in strength and knowledge of Vedic texts. Women are impure and represent falsehood.

 

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These verses are downright demeaning and infuriating. What is even more upsetting is the fact that these aren’t mere hypothesis – these have been the order of the day at a time in the Indian subcontinent. The fact that women have lived for years with such a tarnished image is out rightly nauseating.

The ‘holy’ text has, for the same reason, often been the center of controversy.

In March 2016, students of JNU had burnt a copy of Manusmriti for it’s “extremely derogatory references against women”. The then vice-president of ABVP said that by doing this, they are “burning discrimination”, as reported by First post. In a similar event in June this year, the CPI (M) blamed RSS for propagating values inspired by the laws of Manu for which they received a lot of flak, as reported by ANI.

While the current society has outgrown most of what these verses project, it would be immoral to say that the Hindu dharma is now completely devoid of any such discrimination.

ALSO READ: Ten Inspiring Quotes by Famous Personalities on World’s Oldest Religion “Hinduism”

We claim that ours is a developed country. We are all in for gender equality and time and again remind ourselves that women are being empowered by appointing women to various honorable posts. But have our ideologies regarding women really changed?

Do we honor women like they should be, and do we value them as much as they deserve?

Or are we still tied to the chains of retrogression with religions at its commands?

– by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

 


 

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Muslim Women in India feel secure under Sharia Law and do not want Uniform Civil Code, says AIMPLB

AIMPLB has submitted an affidavit to the apex court stating that though triple talaq is "undesirable" and according to Islam it is "permissible"

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A woman wearing burqa. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Oct 29, 2016: All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) claimed today that Muslim women in India doesn’t feel insecure under the Sharia law and therefore they do not want a Uniform Civil Code. The statement came amid a raging debate on ‘triple talaq’ practice.

“It is not the personal law board or the women in it, who are against the proposed Uniform Civil Code, but Muslim women in general in the country do not want it. They feel safe and secure under the Sharia law,” Kamal Faruqui, a member of AIMPLB said to PTI.

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According to PTI report, the issue of immediate divorce or the triple talaq practice is at present the subject of a Supreme Court case and with the Centre, and some Muslim women organisations are seeking a ban on the practice on the grounds of being discriminatory to women.

In its opposition to the move, AIMPLB has submitted an affidavit to the apex court stating that though triple talaq is “undesirable” and according to Islam it is “permissible.”

The Board has already started a signature campaign in support of the practice.

According to PTI, Faruqui claimed, “the campaign has already got support from Muslim women in Rajasthan, Gujarat, UP, Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. And, in many cases, where our members are not there, we are getting good support from them, mostly spontaneous.”

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Asma Zehra, an executive member of the AIMPLB claimed that Muslim women from across the country were coming together to demand that the personal law will be protected and they have no issues following the Sharia Law.

According to PTI report, Zehra also asserted that “the incidences of divorce in Muslim community is much lower compared to other ones. Also, women have maintenance rights even after the divorce. They can also go for remarriage to begin a new life. The women feel much secure under the Sharia law and do not wish to be governed under a Uniform Civil Code.”

“We are also getting a good response from women in small villages and cities,” she said.

Zehra also hit out at right wing groups for fueling the debate.

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She further added, “the PM was right when he said this is not a ‘Hindu-Muslim’ issue. This is an issue created by the RSS. As citizens, Indians need to decide whether we want to follow the Constitution, which gives us religious rights, or some vested saffron agenda.”

On the other hand, many women activists have slammed the board for its counter-affidavit, saying the Muslim body has “turned a blind eye” to the plight of women suffering due to this biased practice.

Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), which is one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court against triple talaq, said to PTI, “No one can stop the citizen of this country from approaching the court. That is a right Muslim women also have.”

However, Zehra alleged that the groups opposing the Triple Talaq practice were “tools of BJP”.

BMMA rejecting the charge said, “AIMPLB has been completely obstinate and there is no point talking to bodies like these.”

– prepared by NewsGram Team with PTI inputs.