Sabarimala Row: Kerala Women Form Human Wall for Gender Equality

Sabarimala Row: Kerala Women Form Human Wall for Gender Equality

India

Thousands of women from various walks of life participated in the 620 km-long state-sponsored “Women’s Wall” campaign stretching from the northern tip of Kasaragod to the southern end in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, 1 January, to uphold gender equality and renaissance values.

Flagging off the event, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi garlanded the statue of social reformer ‘Ayyankali’, reported PTI.

Before the programme’s inauguration, K Balakrishnan, state secretary, CPI(M), had said:

“Women’s wall isn’t a referendum on Sabarimala verdict. Government fund is not being used for it. Those who support gender equality can join the women chain.”
K Balakrishnan, state secretary, CPI(M), as quoted by ANI

Women from various walks of life – writers, athletes, actors, politicians, techies, government officials and homemakers – stood across highways crisscrossing through the state. Expressing solidarity, thousands of men also lined up parallel forming a second human 'wall'.

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    Thousands of women take pledge while participating in the women’s wall against communalism and gender discrimination in Kochi on 1 January.
    Thousands of women take pledge while participating in the women’s wall against communalism and gender discrimination in Kochi on 1 January.(Photo: PTI)
  • 01
    Thousands of women and other activists participate in the women’s wall against communalism and gender discrimination in Kochi on 1 January. 
    Thousands of women and other activists participate in the women’s wall against communalism and gender discrimination in Kochi on 1 January. (Photo: PTI)

The "Women's Wall" was conceived in the backdrop of frenzied protests witnessed in the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala after the CPI(M)-led LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict, allowing all women to pray at the Ayyappa shrine.

The Wall was formed between 4 and 4:15 pm, with participants taking a pledge to uphold gender equality and renaissance values.

While Health minister KK Shylaja led the chain at Kasargod, senior CPM leader Brinda Karat was the last person at the end of the chain in Thiruvananthapuram.

LDF had expected over 30 lakh women to take part in the event.

The Women's wall was suggested at a meeting called by the Kerala government following the massive protests by right-wing parties and a section of devotees over the government's decision to implement the 28 September apex court order.

“The protests by communal forces against women’s entry in Sabarimala had prompted the government and other progressive organisations to conceive the idea of a Women’s Wall in the state.”
CM Pinarayi Vijayan, as quoted by PTI

The event was organised by the ruling LDF along with over 176 other socio-political organisations, including the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) and Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS).

It came days after thousands of devotees lit ‘Ayyappa Jyothies’ (lighting of sacred lamps) and lined up from Hosangadi in Kasargod to Kanyakumari, vowing to protect the age-old customs and traditions of Sabarimala, PTI further reported.

Also Read : A Wall That is Bound To Fall: An Open Letter To Pinarayi Vijayan

(With inputs from PTI.)

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