Thursday October 19, 2017
Home India Indian Women ...

Indian Women challenge the age-old taboo of banning women’s entry in temples

0
202
Image source: VOA

After mounting a spirited challenge to centuries-old traditions, Indian women have gained access to the inner sanctum of a key Hindu temple that had prohibited them from entering for hundreds of years, and are spearheading a movement to have similar bans overturned in other temples and a historic mosque.

When 31-year-old activist Trupti Desai set foot on the platform where the deity of the Shani Shingnapur temple is placed, it was hailed as a huge victory for gender equality in a country where large strata of society remain patriarchal.

Desai’s entry in Ahmednagar in Western Mahasrashtra state this month, along with a small group of other women, marked the culmination of a high-profile campaign that she launched five months ago on hearing that priests had conducted a purification ritual in the temple after a woman offered prayers to the idol.

After police foiled Desai’s attempt to literally parachute from a helicopter onto the raised platform of the open-air temple earlier this year, women activists mounted a legal challenge to the ban.

The Mumbai High Court ruled in their favor, saying it was a fundamental right of women to access any place of worship where men are allowed, and that authorities should facilitate their entry into temples that ban them.

After some resistance, the temple trustees finally threw open the inner sanctum to women. It has not happened easily; the activists had to enter armed with a court order and protected by a ring of policemen because they faced angry counter protests by locals who wanted to protect the temple from what they felt was its desecration by women.

Women have challenged the ban on their entry to the mausoleum at the famous Haji Ali Dargah, a shrine and mosque situated on an islet off Mumbai’s coast. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Women have challenged the ban on their entry to the mausoleum at the famous Haji Ali Dargah, a shrine and mosque situated on an islet off Mumbai’s coast. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

“Many people had said that ’til the sun, moon and stars exist, you will never be able to set foot here. I am very happy that women’s power has won, and tradition has lost,” said Desai after tasting victory.

She said her movement does not target religious practices; it aims to fight the notion that women have a lesser status. Most Hindu temples allow women, but a handful of prominent ones have shut the doors on them.

As the campaign to change the status quo gains traction, women have set their sights on other temples with similar restrictions. At least two – the well-known Trimbakeshwar temple in Nashik and Mahalaxmi temple in Kolhapur – lifted their bans on women this month.

But the battle is not over, as similar campaigns are playing out in other parts of the country. The most high-profile one is for access to the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala state in Southern India, which does not allow women of reproductive age to enter the temple. The ban is born out of the belief that menstruating women are impure.

The Supreme Court, which is due to rule on a challenge to that centuries-old custom, has said it will the test this restriction on the basis of the constitution.

“What right does the temple have to forbid women from entering any part of the temple? Can you deny a woman her right to climb Mount Everest? The reasons for banning anything must be common for all,” said Justice Dipak Misra, one of the three judges said during a recent hearing.

Temple authorities have defended the tradition saying the deity being worshipped is a celibate.

It is not just Hindu temples that are coming under pressure to allow women. Muslim women petitioners have challenged a ban on them in the mausoleum at the 15th century Haji Ali Dargah, one of the country’s most prominent mosques in Mumbai and a famous city landmark. The restrictions were imposed in 2011 by trustees who said allowing women in the proximity of the tomb of a revered saint is “a grievous sin” in Islam.

Zakia Soman, the co-founder of a Muslim women’s rights group (Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan), questions the ban, saying both men and women are allowed right into the holiest place for all Muslims in Mecca.

She said they went to court after efforts to have a dialogue with the trustees made no headway making it clear that as women raise their voice for equality, “these people are getting even more regressive than what they are. We cannot just allow this to pass, we have got to fight it.”

Most Hindu temples, like this one in Gurgaon, do not ban women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Most Hindu temples, like this one in Gurgaon, do not ban women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Women’s rights advocates describe the movement to enter places of worship as an important milestone in the quest for gender equality. They say what is significant is the campaign took root in a relatively small town and not in the big cities, where such battles are usually waged.

A professor of sociology at Delhi University, Mala Shankar Das Kapoor, points out that these campaigns have been drawing nationwide attention.

“A lot of more people will realize that these things need to be stopped, so that gives the women who have been deprived a little more courage to stand for their rights and express themselves. All this adds to the confidence of women asking for equality,” she said. (VOA)

Next Story

Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma have been ranked among the most powerful businesswomen outside of the United States by Fortune magazine

0
53
Indian Women
Indra Nooyi - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2008. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Sep 28, 2017: Indian women have undertaken every role in each sphere of life from beauty to the outrageous corporate world with due diligence.  Fortune magazine has released the Most Powerful Women in Business Outside the US list in which two Indian women, ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank chief Shikha Sharma have made it to the rankings while Indira Nooyi featured in the top three businesswomen on the US edition list.

Anna Bonnin, the executive chairman of the Banco Santander Group, was ranked first in the list. Kochhar was placed fifth, and Sharma was ranked 21st in the list.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was ranked second on the US Most Powerful Women in Business list. General Motors CEO Mary Barra topped the list while Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson took the third spot.

Also Read: 5 Women Whose Caliber, Achievements Would Inspire You 

The annual list of working women outside the United States was released 17th time.  The 50 global businesswomen represented 17 countries and had 11 newcomers this year. The methodology involved four criteria: the size and importance of the woman’s business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman’s career (resume and runway ahead), and social and cultural influence, mentioned Livemint.

 

Next Story

A welcome step for women empowerment laws, soon to be introduced law will help to prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages: Rakesh Srivastava

Rakesh Srivastava talked about increasing women employment, equal work participation, and gender equality

0
63
A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages
A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages. Pixabay
  • Efforts are required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment
  • In November the government will honor 100 women achievers
  • Gender Equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment

New Delhi (India), September 7, 2017: Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development said that very soon a law will be finalized which will protect Indian women who are abandoned by their NRI husbands or foreign partners. He said this on 6th September 2107. It will be a praiseworthy step for women empowerment.

Srivastava was present for the inauguration ceremony of 2nd Conference on Women at the workplace- “Role of Leadership”, New Delhi. The Conference was organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Women Empowerment by increasing job opportunities for women

According to ANI report, Rakesh Srivastava said “India has taken a lead role in gender budgeting in the world. Efforts are also required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment in both organized/unorganized sectors, including entrepreneurial development.”

Women Achievers will be honored

Srivastava also informed that in November the government will honor 100 women achievers. The event will be held in Hyderabad and will possibly be attended by The US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. The government decided to honor women achievers will inspire other women to reach great heights of success, this step will foster women empowerment.

Equal Opportunities for Women

He further added that if suitable strategies and also laws which help in women empowerment are implemented- it will ensure equal opportunities for women to enter as well as enjoy decent work in a healthy work environment. This will also include fair and equal wages, health measures, social security measures and occupational safety.

Also Read: Misery of the outcast wives in India by their NRI husbands

Knowledge about Gender Equality will increase Women Empowerment

He cited that gender equality is critical for the development of any country. Srivastava said that by removing barriers which prevent women from having the same access to economic opportunities, education, and productive inputs as men will lead to productivity gains. It is a crucial step to be taken in today’s globalized and competitive world.

Srivastava said, “India has been ranked 87 out of 144 countries on the latest World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2016, but in the economic sphere, much work remains to be done as India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries.” He added that gender equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment.

Workforce Participation Rate in Men v/s Women

“In 2011, the workforce participation rate at all India level is 25.51% for women as compared to 53.26% for men. While there is no urban-rural gap for males (53%), there is a considerable rural-urban gap for females, when workforce participation rate for rural women is 30% it is only 15.4% for urban women,” Srivastava said, mentions ANI report.

Also Read: In Netherlands, PM Narendra Modi pitches for Women Empowerment in India

Women Empowerment by building women’s Hostels for widows and women in distress

Rakesh Srivastava, the secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development also shared that the government is working on women’s hostels that can also be utilized by the widows and women in distress in India.

Srivastava said “Women form an integral part of the Indian workforce. They need to be equal partners in the society for them to be equal participants in work. Women have to contend with discriminatory laws, institutions and attitudes that restrict their leadership and full participation in public life.” He added that what prevents women from becoming effective leaders is unequal access to resources.

October 15 will be observed as ‘Women Farmer’s Day’ all thanks to Krishna Raj, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. This move by a minister, noticing rural women’s contribution in farming paves way for women empowerment of rural women.

Krishna Raj said, “Women can make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.”


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
Click here- www.newsgram.com/donate

Next Story

Indian women are at higher risk of death due to Domestic Violence than American women: Study

According to the research domestic violence was found to increase the risk of death in Indian women by nearly 40 times than among the US women

0
61
Street Play on domestic violence
Street Play on domestic violence. Wikimedia
  • Researchers from the University of Washington found three major causes of injury -fall, road traffic accidents and domestic violence
  • US men were three times as likely to die after sustaining a fall than US women
  • One in four female victims of assault in India actively seeks care after experiencing intimate partner violence

New York, USA, September 3, 2017:  Women in India are nearly 40 times more likely to die after being assaulted than their peers in the US, finds a comparative analysis of trauma data from both countries.

In the study, researchers from the University of Washington found three major causes of injury -fall, road traffic accidents and domestic violence.

Indian men were more likely to die after sustaining any one of the three categories of injury than either Indian women or US men and women.

On the other hand, US men were three times as likely to die after sustaining a fall than US women.

However, the greatest disparity in risk of death emerged for Indian and US women who had been assaulted -a difference the researchers described as “unparalleled”.

Domestic violence was found to increase the risk of death in Indian women by nearly 40 times than among the US women.

Importantly, evidence showed that only one in four female victims of assault in India actively seeks care after experiencing intimate partner violence.

In addition, both men and women in the US had between five and seven times lower odds of dying after a fall or a road traffic accident than did their counterparts in India, the researchers said.

“The higher odds of death for Indian females compared with US females suggest that there are other injuries and systemic factors that contribute to this discrepancy in mortality odds,” said Mohini Dasari, a researcher at the University of Washington.

For the study, published in the online journal BMJ Global Health, the team drew on information submitted to Indian (11,670 cases) and the US (14,155 cases) trauma databases for 2013 to 2015.

The Indian database comprised patients from four hospitals in Kolkata, Mumbai, and Delhi, while the US database included patients treated at level 1 trauma centres in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (IANS)