Kerala: Lakhs Of Women Form 620 Km Human Wall For Gender Equality
On January 1, when the world woke up to a promise of new beginnings, Kerala was witnessing its own mini-revolution, of sorts. Lakhs of women, cutting across the barriers of caste, creed, religion and social status formed a 620 km “wall”. This wall extended from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram to the northern district of Kasaragod. The women came forward to uphold gender equality and renaissance values.
This “Vanthil Mathil” was backed by ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) party along with 176 other organisations. The decision to hold this event was taken in December.
“To oppose moves to turn state into lunatic asylum”
Touted as the biggest congregation of women in the history of Kerala, the event was a counter-demonstration against the Sangh Parivar’s protests and agitation against SC verdict on Sabarimala. It may be noted that the pledge taken by the participants did not directly refer to the Sabarimala row.
As reported by Scroll, the event saw the participation of women from all walks of life. Brinda Karat, leader of CPI(M) gave the inaugural address. Karat said, “Some women believe in worshipping Lord Ayyappa in a particular manner, and we respect that. However, it is unconstitutional to stop women who want to seek his darshan directly,” reported NDTV. While Karat led the chain at Thiruvananthapuram, at Kasargod, Health minister K K Shailaja was at the end of the chain. As per News18, organisers claimed more than 50 lakh women, including actors and political leaders from across the state joined the chain.
The participants pledged to “protect the values of social reformation movement, to support the idea of gender equality as conceived by the Constitution and to oppose any efforts to turn Kerala into a lunatic asylum”.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Sangh Parivar was trying to communalise the state. “This wall is about gender equality and equal opportunities,” he added.
This event did have its share of hiccups. At Chettukundu, 20 km south of Kasargod, alleged members of Sangh Parivar tried to break the chain. This reportedly led to clashes between them and the supporters of Left Front. The Police had to disperse the agitators using tear gas and by resorting to lathi-charge. Also, in front of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s office in Vidyanagar, Kasargod, a man and a woman were injured. Reporters of Manorama News and 24 TV channels were allegedly attacked by Sangh workers.
BJP Mahila Morcha president KT Rema said that such a state-organised human wall was actually a communal wall. “The Chief Minister is trying to divide the women and people of Kerala on the lines of religion and caste for votes,” she said.
Congress was also not supportive of the event either.
SC verdict and protest against the same
In September, the Supreme Court gave a verdict permitting women of all ages to go inside the temple. Until then menstruating women were not allowed. However, soon after the judgement, protests and incidents of violence, allegedly by right-wingers were reported.
A few days ago, a BJP-backed Ayyappa Jyothi event was organised. Many right-wing supporters had formed a similar human chain from northern to southern part of the state against the SC verdict. A case against 1,400 people was registered for holding such an event without permission.