In a win for women in India, the Kerala government told the Supreme Court on Monday that women will be allowed into the Sabarimala temple, which was so far barred for women between ages of 10 and 50 years.
Women of all ages will be allowed in to the temple now, said the government while changing its stance from that of the previous Congress-led government.
Multiple arguments were given previously such as women were "unclean" since they menstruated. Another reason given was that Lord Ayyappa was celibate.
The temple management —Travancore Devaswom Board— still defends the age-old tradition of banning children and women from entering.
The matter has been contested for a long time. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in 2007 had said that women of all ages can be allowed, which was later contested by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government in 2014. The LDF government, which is back in power, has again made the Kerala government's official stand as pro-women.
The temple board argued that a document in court can't be altered by whatever party was in power, to which the court said that banning women from entering the temple is a violation of human rights. The apex court will be hearing the case in February next.
The board has previously been criticised for saying things like women will be allowed to enter the temple when there's a machine to detect if they were menstruating or not.
The remarks from the board is an example of body-shaming women and the tradition perpetuates stigma around menstruation even in the 21st Century.