We support women’s entry to Shani Shingnapur temple

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan through its 70,000 plus muslim women members supports the women group Bhumata Brigade’s step of entering the chabutra or the sanctum sanctorum at the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar. We salute the women activists for their democratic protest and assertion of their right to worship in the face of all odds placed by the patriarchal male temple administration. We stand in solidarity with the women who are fighting for their right to religion and worship. We condemn the discriminative arrangement at the temple that bars women from entering the sanctum sanctorum and urge the temple trustees to correct their stand in line with the principles of gender justice enshrined in the Constitution of India.

We are shocked at the imposition of section 144 by the district administration to bar the women from proceeding on a peaceful and democratic program. This is a gross violation of the Constitutional principles of equality and justice even as the nation celebrates the 67th Republic Day. We are aghast at the way the district authorities through police and the Registrar of Charities is supporting the discriminatory action of the temple trust. The administration and the police are colluding with the temple trustees in denying women their rights instead of supporting and enabling the cause of gender justice. We demand that the state government immediately take steps to correct this continued denial of justice to women devotees at the temple.

We condemn the efforts by some patriarchal groups to malign the activist women as publicity seekers and trouble makers. We demand the religious trusts presiding over places of worship such as temples, dargahs and churches come clean and make amends to the patriarchal practices that have kept women out of places of worship. God or deities or pirs are not private properties of any individuals or trusts. Religions of the world – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism do not discriminate between the genders. The temple and dargah trusts do not have the authority either from religious or legal sources to discriminate against anyone. We call upon the male-dominated trusts and bodies to correct their stance urgently failing which more and more women are bound to protest and demand their right to worship.

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