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New Year, New Protest

On January 1st, 2019 women in the southern Indian state of Kerala formed a 385 mile human chain in support of gender equality amid a ban for women having access to a prominent Hindu temple. BBC reported that nearly 5 million women from various areas of Kerala gathered to form the chain. The human chain was organized by the state’s left wing coalition government .

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The Sabarimala Shrine was closed to women of “menstruating age,” defined as any women between ages 10 and 50. Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals - but most temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating, rather than banning women in a broad age group from entering at all.

Kavita Das, a young protester, told BBC Hindi:

“This is a great way of saying how powerful women are, and how we can empower ourselves and help each other. Of course, I support the move to allow women of all ages into the temple. I don’t think tradition or any kind of backwardness should stop women. Those who want to pray must have the right to pray.”

India officially overturned the ban in September but protesters, on the opposing side, have since attacked females seeking access. The decision to overturn the ban came after a petition argued that it violated gender equality. Critics of the initial ban have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of pursuing a religiously divisive agenda to court the BJP's mostly-Hindu support base.

“Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere”

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