WOMEN ARE FIGHTING TO GAIN ACCESS TO TEMPLES AND MOSQUES
Author: Aditya Prakash, III year of B.A.,LL.B. from KIIT School of Law
In this study work, the researcher would like to talk about the circumstances where women in India are battling to access temples and mosques. There are still a lot of misconceptions and ill-beliefs all around us concerning religion. The most astounding thing about all of this is that no one has ever sought to exceed religion and gain the genuine spirit of human existence. Instead, they still cling to the laws that made humans human as an essential ingredient in obtaining God’s favour. As well as religious fire envision when the same is related to the world's predominance of women.However, the study article will focus on women struggling to access temples and churches.
Keywords: Ban, fight, temple or mosque entry, taboo, right to pray
Women's entry into places of religious worship is becoming a significant matter of discussion. Similar practices have existed in India from the beginning of time; however, public awareness and movements across the country have recently raised these issues, prompting a slew of petitions and appeals to be filed in high courts and the Supreme Court. In a secular democracy like India, everyone has the right to freedom of religion, as well as the freedom to practice and spread it, subject to the constitution's reasonable constraints. Gender equality is one of the constitution's goals, and who would have guessed that the freedom to pray would be up for discussion? This issue has been brought to light by cases such as the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, and the Haji Ali Dargah, all of which banned women entry to the inner shrine. Judges have followed the wind and supported the trend, recognizing women's rights to equality and religious freedom, aiming to put an end to a century-old practice and remove the restrictions imposed. The Maharashtra Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act of 1956 makes it unlawful to deny Hindus entrance to places of worship. In 2016, the Bombay High Court handed down a landmark judgement permitting women to access the Haji Ali Dargah's innermost sanctorum, concluding that the bar on entrance was unconstitutional.
The Bombay High Court overruled various constitutional standards and statutes in rejecting the state's protectionist approach to gender equality. This ban on women entering the temple does not apply to all women; for more than 60 years, only women between the ages of 10 and 50 have been denied admittance to Sabarimala. The ban on women's admission was challenged in 1991 before the Kerala High Court, but the ban was upheld. The India Young Lawyers Association has petitioned the Supreme Court to have the case reconsidered, saying that the limitation violates women's rights to equality, non-discrimination, and religious liberty. The Supreme Court has a wonderful opportunity to set the route for equal religious rights for women in this case.
Due to time constraints, the technique used in performing this research is doctrinal. The study's dependability and reliability are mostly determined by the methods used. The data for the doctrinal research was gathered from both primary and secondary sources. Statutes, rules, declarations, announcements, recommendations, and committee reports are the key sources of data used. Books, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, journals, newspapers, and websites are employed as secondary sources of data.
A Literature Review
There was an incident where a Muslim girl shared her experience when she was told by the mosque administrators of Haji Ali in Mumbai that women were prohibited from entering the inner chamber of the mosque for two main reasons: when the women bend down to touch their forehead on the grave, their pallus would fall, exposing their chest cleavage and potentially arousing the men present who watched it. The second important reason was that the ladies have a monthly period, and when they are menstruating, they are dirty. Therefore, if they entered the chamber of the Haji Ali, they would contaminate and render the shrine profane. Based on this, the Bharatiya Muslim MahilaAndolan(BMMA) petitioned the courts for the relaxation of the prohibition, pointing out that even saints were born from wombs. So, dismissing the product of the womb is equivalent to denying the mother's piety and dignity. Three years later, the hard legal struggle was drawing to a close, with the Mumbai high court poised to issue a decision on January 18th. If the courts rule that the restriction must be lifted, it will set a precedent for people fighting discrimination against women in houses of worship. Women were allowed to access the inner sanctuary of Haji Ali Dargah until 2011, when they were unceremoniously barred. The BMMA petitioned against the ban in 2014, and the Mumbai court ordered the mosque's confidence to be lifted in August.
Many Hindu temples restrict women from entering during their monthly bleeding period. Kerala's Sabarimala temple goes a step further, prohibiting menstruating females between the ages of 10 and 50 from attending the shrine. The constraints and their genesis stem from the idea that the temple's god, Swami Ayyappa, is a NaishtikaBrahmachari (celibate) and hence an epitome of purity that menstruating women should not breach. Women are prohibited from entering Sabarimala per Rule 3 (b) of the Hindu Places of Public Worship Rules of Kerala (Authorization of Entry), 1965. Because it is impossible to tell whether a woman is menstruating, all women between the ages of 10 and 50 have been forbidden from having children. According to Prayar Gopalakrishnan, president of the temple management board, women will be permitted to enter the temple only once a computer has been created and installed to identify whether they have their time.
Findings and Analysis
The restriction on women entering places of worship violates our Indian Constitution's articles 14 (equality before the law), 25 and 26 (freedom of religion). Our constitution has to be revised so that clauses explicitly indicate equality between men and women in terms of admission to places of worship, so that women are not barred from attending. The prohibition at Shabrimala temple is claimed to be not historical nor religious, but rather based on the judgments of the male established.
Why can't women worship if they can be acknowledged as gods? When women are not permitted to enter temples dedicated to male gods, men should not be permitted to enter temples dedicated to female goddesses in order to achieve equality. According to the Supreme Court, since God does not discriminate between men and women, why is there prejudice in the grounds of a house of worship?
"What authority does the temple have to exclude women from entering any portion of the temple?" Is it possible to deny a woman the chance to climb Mount Everest? The reasons for prohibiting something must be universal."
The subject of whether gender justice can be achieved in places of worship has received a lot of attention. Why is a menstrual lady considered filthy when Kamakhya Devi is worshiped in India? (The bleeding goddess). If bleeding is the reason that women are forbidden from worshiping, why do you worship a bleeding goddess? Stop worshiping her as well.
If this is the case, IYLA can claim that it is the state's responsibility to protect a woman's freedom to worship. Women devotees may petition the court to order the state to take all necessary steps to ensure ladies access to and safety at the temple. Surprisingly, the decision in this case will raise difficulties for other religions as well. A lawsuit has been filed in the Bombay High Court by Muslim women seeking acknowledgment of their right to enter the inner sanctuary for devotion at the Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai. The issue of gender equity in religious organizations is governed by the state charter, which is responsible for enforcing the constitution. As a secular state, administrations have not intervened in theadministration of various faiths, which are overseen by their own religious organisations. The ramifications of the decision in this case will be to find a solution that advances the fundamental guarantees of equality, non-discrimination, and religious freedom.
Let us suppose for a moment that human sacrifice is a religious practice in order to observe how this balance is usually exhibited. The practice is regarded to be a vital and inviolable part of religion. Such a practice would undoubtedly be considered criminal since it is vulgar and endangers human life. Even if the repercussions are less severe in the case of temple access bans, it will be difficult to claim that religious freedom must give way to the right to life but not to the right to equality. The restriction on women accessing Sabarimala is based on anti-menstruating women prejudice. By relying on archaic and sexist notions of purity and impurity, it overtly attacks an entire group. As a result, prejudice becomes institutionalized in a systematic and pervasive way, and it looks to be unsustainable as a violation of Article 14 of the constitution.
Another prominent motive for temple governance to maintain religious exclusivity. Temples are compared to elite reading clubs or restaurants that serve specialty cuisine. A men's reading club, it is maintained, cannot be regarded discriminatory toward women, and a vegetarian restaurant cannot be judged unfair to a non-vegetarian. Although tempting on the surface, this analogy is erroneous.
Because of the country's particular sociocultural past, the Indian constitution has a distinct type of secularism. A provision like the one in Article 25 regarding "opening Hindu religious institutions of a public nature to all classes and divisions of Hindus" may exist nowhere else in the globe. The country has witnessed targeted discrimination in religious institution admission and access based on caste and gender. As a result, the constitutional language in Article 25 appears to be intended to remedy a historical imbalance. Furthermore, the distinction between "public" temples and elite book clubs or eating facilities cannot be overstated.The openness of temples entirely tips the balances in favour of the marginalised individual or group. Although a private restaurant owner is able to institute entry limitations, the institution of state is required by the constitution to ensure public access. The Bombay High Court said emphatically in the context of women's admission into the inner sanctuary of the Dargah in the Haji Ali Dargah case that the state has a positive constitutional obligation to ensure that there is no gender discrimination.
Another aspect is that no woman has ever petitioned the court to join the Sabarimala temple. Even if the court rules in their favour, women in India are expected to follow religious norms and avoid Sabarimala. This is a faulty argument. Legal advancements have frequently preceded social upheaval. Many old rituals, like as Sati or untouchability, were made illegal, but this did not immediately result in a social revolution. Law is generally related with societal development. Furthermore, the court should not be concerned with whether or not women are willing to defy a court order and visit the Sabarimala shrine.The initial reluctance might be attributed to patriarchal and sexist ideas about how women should and should not act. Constitutional courts, on the other hand, must address the violation of her basic rights, in this case, the right to equality and the freedom of belief and worship.
Most of India's society is not literate enough to grasp the significance and causes of menstruation. They are narrow-minded and have been enforcing superfluous norms and rituals, causing a significant problem for the ladies who are in such a horrible situation. People have been following rules such as restricting women from entering temples, mosques, and many holy religious places; women are not even allowed to touch puja items or enter their own puja rooms; in some places, women are made to sleep on the floor, not enter the kitchen, or touch some perishable foods; and many other things stating that a woman is impure during her menstruating days. These stereotypes have been followed primarily in rural regions, although there are many such conservative households in metropolitan areas as well. It is apparent that they have never questioned what they have been doing for so long without having a legitimate cause. When asked about the stereotype, the same people will be unable to provide a rational explanation. They think that if their forefathers established a rule, it must be obeyed without exception. A woman in every part of the globe bleeds to give birth to a new life. She endures excruciating agony, and instead of receiving help and care, she is given a set of rules to obey. Periods are something that no woman would have asked for if she had a choice, but menstruation is still considered filthy and is one of society's biggest taboos.
Education is crucial in preventing women from adhering to such useless standards. People in India do not even talk about it adequately because they are embarrassed to do so. A female feels awkward discussing her periods in front of male family members or society members because she has been taught that it is dirty and evil and should not be discussed openly. Education can assist such women in opening up and sharing their grief. There are times when women experience a great deal of pain during their periods, and if no other women are around, they believe that suffering from the agony is preferable to expressing the misery to the guys. When a little girl receives a stain on her school uniform, she is looked at as if she has done something horrible or evil, and the people around her make her feel so uncomfortable that she begins to feel humiliated. Menstruation, although being a component of scientific education, is something that females have to deal with on a daily basis. Students who have previously studied the same subject misbehave, ridicule, and laugh at the young girls as though they have committed an embarrassing crime. These instances create a gap in the girls' minds, and they begin to believe that menstruation is taboo. She attempts to keep the stain out of sight of the people around her so that no negative or unpleasant comments are made about it. Yes, literacy is crucial because it helps people comprehend that menstruation is far more than a poor mind-set and preconceptions, but the issue remains: is literacy enough to make people understand that menstruation is a vital part of a woman's life and not taboo? Being read enough but not knowing what a woman goes through will always be regarded as illiteracy. Children understand and study the menstrual process in their school textbooks and are fully aware of everything linked to it, yet they still misbehave with the girls by making comments and doing other things that make them uncomfortable and humiliated. As a result, being able to read is not enough; a woman wants the society around her to be educated enough to comprehend women and the anguish they experience.
1. Those who wish to see Gender Justice become a reality must advocate for the federal and state governments to vigorously enforce the Directive Principles, especially the Uniform Civil Code.
2. In the lack of a Uniform Civil Codeand the continuous use of religion-based customary law by many groups, the campaign for gender equity appears to be a protracted one complicated by political interpretations of religious freedom, minority rights, and vote bank policies.
3. To secure gender justice, the following steps must be taken:
a) Enactment of new legislation infused with concern for gender justice
b) Efficient and truthful application of legislated laws
c) Professionalization and sensitization of police, prosecutors, and judges
d) The system has some corrupt parts. They must be dealt with harshly and weeded out. If such adjustments are implemented, there is little question that the system will provide gender justice to everybody without exception.
When God does not discriminate between men and women, what rights do the priests or authorities of the place of worship have to discriminate between the sexes? To achieve gender equality, both men and women should be permitted to enter places of worship. Allowing women to enter houses of worship is one step toward achieving gender equality in India. Gender equality in access to worship venues is required to develop a sense of justice for all. There is no constitutional basis for prohibiting or prohibiting women from worshiping or entering any location. It is the basic right of both men and women to have a conscience and to profess, propagate, and practice any religion. It is within the nation's constitutional structure that both men and women enjoy equal access to houses of worship. Why do we forbid women from worshiping if female goddesses can?Isn't all of this sex discrimination? Why is this injustice limited to women in a country of equals? Gender equality is rooted in the beautiful notion of equality. It suggests that men and women should be treated equally before the law and should be afforded equal protection under the law. There is no shortage of legislation; nonetheless, a lack of execution leads to gender inequity. We require strong and sustained social action, backed up by adequate public education. We live in the twenty-first century, and despite advances toward gender equality, much work remains to be done. Will there be perfect gender fairness in future responses?