The Tranvacore Devaswom Board which manages the Sabarimala temple of Kerala, has come up with a new revelation, that women between the age of 10 and 50 years, cannot maintain purity for 41 days on account of menstruation! This statement was made as part of its defence, while the Supreme court was hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry of women into the Sabarimala temple.
This is the defence given by the Board, to the Supreme Court over the ban of women entering the temple. So the Board has come to the startling revelation, that the process of menstruation renders women impure. Not only does this discriminate against the women devotees, who are denied entry due to their gender, it also goes against the letter and spirit of article 17, which abolishes Untouchability. The statement is not a case of particular discrimination against women devotees, but a general discrimination against menstruating women, who have been deemed impure, therefore rendered untouchable by god.
Travancore Devaswom Board, claimed the ban was not discriminatory and was based on “reasonable classification”. When asked by the Supreme Court about the fulcrum of classification, the Board replied stating that, girls and women in the age group are excluded as they cannot maintain purity for a period of 41 days due to the mensuration.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, had said “The practice, which keeps women away and prevents them from worshiping the deity of the shrine because of their biology, is derogatory and detrimental to their dignity”. The defence of the Board only goes on to show that we need to make sustained efforts, towards dismantling the argument of menstruating women as “impure”, so that the women do not end up being the god’s untouchables.