Thousands of women in India's coastal state of Kerala joined together, forming a 386-mile wall, to send a message in support of gender equality.
Indian Women Under Attack from India Temple Protesters
Official sources told the BBC that approximately five million women from different parts of Kerala took to highways to form a human chain in protest of gender disparity.
The “women’s wall” stretched from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram to the northern district of Kasaragod.
The demonstration is part of a series of protests against a ban which prevents women of “menstruating age” (ages 10 to 50) to enter the temple. India’s Supreme Court had overturned the ban back in September, however, attacks on female visitors by conservative groups persist, citing a violation of the holy site.
Last month, two women tried to enter the temple but were prevented from doing so by protesters defending the ban. Right-wing Hindu protesters base their actions on an interpretation of a temple deity, Lord Ayyappa whom they allege is “celibate.”
The "women's wall" was initially proposed by Kerala’s Left Front Government and was originally scheduled to take place in December 2018.
In November 2018, dozens of protesters at the Sabarimala Temple were arrested for demanding the removal of a ban on overnight stays, which was implemented by the government as a response to right-wing demonstrations against women devotees.
However, since the court order gained prominence, a major battleground has manifested between devotees and gender activists, sparking protests across the southern state. More than 2,000 people were arrested following clashes near the temple in October.
The Supreme Court will hear challenges to the decision to overturn the ban, starting January 22.