by Emily Feldman: Plus: The most emotional moments from a barrier-breaking day in U.S. Congress…
The new year kicked off in India with a major development in the fight over women’s access to a famous Hindu temple. Protesters have blocked women of “menstruating age” from entering Sabarimala since September, when the Supreme Court ruled that all women had a right to enter the sacred space. This week, though, two women managed to slip into the temple in the middle of the night, setting off celebrations and protests.
“The whole country, and especially the state of Kerala, where Sabarimala is located, was taken aback by the news,” HuffPost India’s Sharanya Hrishikesh said. “The temple’s priest conducted a ‘purification ritual’ after the women’s entry on Wednesday, there was a violent strike called by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday, and on Friday, even as protests are going on, news broke of a third woman entering the temple to offer prayers — a Sri Lankan national.”
HuffPost India reported on the role a Facebook page played in connecting the law professor and grocery store manager currently riling up the country. It also reported on the fascinating about-face most of the original Supreme Court petitioners have made since first pushing for women’s access to the temple. Of the five women who originally advocated for equal access, just one still stands by her original views.
“There is still a long way to go — the issue has exposed deep divides within Kerala, and there are many women who have internalized biases and claim they are ready to wait until they reach menopause to visit the temple,” Sharanya said. “The taboo around menstruation and temple visits will require a lot of work to be undone. But this is a spectacular start to the year in terms of gender equality.”