It was definitely Kerala again created history, by ending the existing history, when they stood together to make the longest women wall in their memory on the evening of the New Year. The Women’s wall on 1st January 2019 created by the politicized and organized common people of Kerala was not a barrier that stops anyone as accused by a section of political parties but it is undeniably a fortified way forward to the egalitarian future. In the beginning, Wall was the creation of the ruling left government with the official theme of preventing atrocities against women. However, it became historic not only because women came forward in a massive scale in order to make it a success as well as to declare their full-fledged support on women entry in Sabarimala temple, but also because of the solidarity shown by men through creating an alternative wall. It is historical because the women declared publicly that they demand equal rights with men in accessing public space. It is historical because the common people of the state deliberately and diligently stated that they do not wish to entertain the divisive politics of not only by Sangh Parivar cadre but also by their mask-team Congress. More than else, it is historical because the state government showed the determination to stand with the majority of people’s legitimate wish without a slight hesitation.
It was Supreme Court verdict on 28th September 2018 compelled state government to ensure safe and secure passage for women to access Sabarimala temple which was denying their entry since 1991. Supreme Court Constitutional Bench observed that denying women the right to enter a public place like temples is a violation of section 25(1) of the Constitution. We cannot forget that the Constitution of India is not merely a legal document; it is a social contract that demands state activism when required. If state compromised on that constitutional spirit, it will be a casualty on Indian people’s democratic rights. Hence the decision of the government of Kerala to mobilize public support publicly was nothing but its realization of state commitment.
The irony is that there was another wall made by the so-called Ayappa devotees on 26th December 2018. Thousands of women joined in that wall too. But they were the specimens of orthodoxical male chauvinism that the religious society cherishes. The women carried ‘thalappoli’ as like as the earlier ‘namajapam’ (chanting Hindu mantras) as their mode of protest. Unfortunately, they hardly knew any other mode of protest. Their demand for protecting Sabarimala temple rituals was hollow and intermittent. However, we should remind them, continuously and constructively, that it is not just about the discriminating rituals of a temple, but also it addresses the entire space of intolerance against women existing hidden in progressive Kerala society.
Hence we should take that vow in this dawn of New Year which will ensure freedom from all sorts of violence against women as well as her access to equal rights with men. The courage of those two women namely Kanakadurga and Bindhu inspire us to resist the discrimination, bias, and violence that characterize our society. It encourages us to confront the different institutions of the state and demand gender accountability. It even gives us the confidence to address the daily discrimination and restraints that are imposed on women in families and neighborhoods. Their bravery motivates us to pledge resistance to all kinds of gender discrimination and oppression. We declare our unconditional support for women’s struggle in the home, in the community, on the streets at the workplace, in worship centres and in public spaces for equality and rights.