Indian Women Form 620km Human Chain for Gender Equality

Five million women in India formed a human chain to protest for equal rights. It’s estimated that the crowd outnumbered the 2017 U.S. Women’s March.

The demonstration was held in the Indian state of Kerala in response to criticism women face at the Sabarimala shrine. The Shrine is considered to be one of the holiest for Hindus. Many women who try to visit the temple are verbally and physically attacked.

Until recently, women of a “menstruating age,” defined as 10-50 years old, were banned from entering the temple because it was believed they were “unclean” to participate in rituals.

Amid the protests Bindu Ammini and Kanaka Durga became the first women of “menstrual age” to enter the Sabarimala temple. Defenders of the ban say it’s part of the process of seeking pilgrimage. India’s Supreme Court lifted the ban in September 2018. The “women’s wall” stretched approximately 385 miles with a crowd size equal thee entire population of Philadelphia. Organizers say it was intended to highlight the ongoing gender inequality and send a message of solidarity.

“This is a great way of saying how powerful women are, and how we can empower ourselves and help each other,” participant Kavita Das stated to BBC. “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.”