Denying Women Entry to the Sabarimala Temple Amounts to Untouchability

The Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, Kerala, prohibits women of menstruating age (between ten and 50 years of age) from entering it – a prohibition enforced under Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965: “Women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship.” The Young Lawyers’ Association filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging this rule in 2006.

Women are not allowed to enter Sabarimala temple. The discrimination is based on physiological reason as women between the age group of 10-50 undergo menstruation.

Fundamental Right in question:

Can right of women to pray at the place of their choice be discriminated against solely based “on a biological factor (menstruation) exclusive to the female gender”?

All Hindus have the right to enter the temple and denying them the right was a kind of “untouchability” which was abolished by Article 17 of the Constitution.

It also goes against the spirit of Articles 14, 15 and 21.

In a public place of worship, a woman can enter, where a man can go. What applies to a man, applies to a woman.

Women and their physiological phenomena are creations of God. If not God, of nature. Why should this (menstruation) be a reason for exclusion for employment or worship or anything?

Article 25 (1) mandates freedom of conscience and the right to practice religion. “All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion”. This means right to pray is a constitutional right.

Also, the Constitution upholds the ideals of liberty of thought, expression, belief, and faith, be it for man or woman.

Therefore, the discrimination is a violation of the rights to equality and gender justice.

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