So the Supreme Court has just referred the issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala to a constitutional bench, and has framed five questions that the bench will have to answer in this case, mainly on articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, dealing with freedom of religion and the liberties granted to separate religious denominations.
Meanwhile, men outside the court have been making statements on this controversial issue with no commitment to legal niceties, fair process or even basic common sense. The Travancore Devaswom Board President Prayar Gopalakrishnan on Sunday made the bizarre claim that allowing women into Sabarimala would lead to “sex tourism”.
He told the Hindustan Times, “If women are allowed, we can’t ensure their security. We don’t like to convert it as a sex tourism spot like Thailand. Even if the court opens its doors, I don’t think self-respecting women will dare to go up to the hill shrine.”
Jokes aside, isn’t it galling? It’s the same logic we see elsewhere in the country, and one of the most infuriating defences that patriarchal figures in power spout: that the State’s own machinery and police force is inadequate to ensure safety of women, so women need to stay at home, and pay the price of their failure to do their duties. Of course, it’s even more audacious in this case, since he’s insinuating that the temple can’t ensure women’s safety, and that women flock to temples to apparently promote sex tourism.
It only reminds us of this wonderful game, conceptualised by Padmini Ray Murray, Joel Johnson and KV Ketan this year as their submission to the Global Game Jam. The creators noticed that events and statements around temple entry and the ban of menstruating women in temples was “getting increasingly out of hand” and so, decided to “demonstrate the utter insanity of the situation” with their game, Darshan Diversion. The game lets you play as a priest or a menstruating woman, and is honestly the best thing to come out of this entire temple entry ruckus.