Ongoing protests, Rehana Fathima, a feminist activist from Kerala, was one of the women who tried to enter the Shabarimala temple today, three days after it was opened for women of all ages. Woman devotee Mary Sweety and reporter Kavitha Jakkal also tried to enter the temple earlier today.
As the temple entries are blocked by devotees against the Supreme Court verdict to allow women of menstruating age to enter the temple, the three women were advised to return. They were escorted by a team of police personnel headed by Inspector General S Sreejith.
Rehana Fathima is known for her angst over a male professor’s comments on the students’ breasts. The professor compared them to watermelons and further advised girls to cover themselves since they attract men.
In protest to this, Rehana Fathima, a 31-year-old government employee, she posed nude with watermelons. The model and activist from Kochi received massive backlash for the same.
However, she explained that this was needed because she wanted “to question the restrictions regarding a woman baring her body”, as per a report by The Times of India.
She was also a part of several other movements of dissent. Fathima was the first woman to participate in the traditional Onam tiger dance, Thrissur pulikali, that is traditionally done by all-male troupes. She has also been a part of the Kiss of Love campaign against moral policing, as per TOI.
Fathima had earlier posted a picture of her wearing the ‘mala’ on Facebook with a single word caption: “Philosophy”.
After Fathima tried to enter the Sabarimala temple today, her house in Kochi was vandalised soon after but two unidentified people.
Kavitha Jakkal, a reporter from Hyderabad working with Mojo TV, was one who was accompanying Fathima as the police escorted them to the gates of Lord Ayyappa’s shrine. She also wore a bulletproof jacket as they walked from Pamba to Sannidhanam. She had earlier said that she won’t return before the darshan. However, the two women were forced to return afterward as their security was threatened by an agitating crowd of devotees.
Another woman, Mary Sweety, tried to enter the temple but was forced to return soon after. Mary Sweety told that “her body was full of divine power motivating her to climb”, as per a report by The News Minute. A 46-year-old woman from Kerala’s Kazhakkottam, she said she wanted to witness the deity at least once. However, she had to return midway after she was stopped by a group of protesting devotees.
“I don’t know about them (journalist Kavitha Jakkal & woman activist Rehana Fatima). If women have returned, it is your drawback. I want to go there,” she said.
Kerala: A woman devotee Mary Sweety returned midway after she was stopped by protesters at Pamba; says "I don't know about them ((journalist Kavitha Jakkal & woman activist Rehana Fatima). If women have returned, it is your drawback. I want to go there." #SabarimalaTemple pic.twitter.com/vzit2Skxqr
— ANI (@ANI) October 19, 2018
Kavitha Jakkal and Rehana Fathima were just metres away from the entry of the temple before they were stopped by protesting devotees and priests.
Devotees outside Lord Ayyappa’s shrine have blocked the entry gates while the head priest Kandarau Rajeevaru has decided to lock the temple and hand over the keys in view of the protests.