Recently, Smriti Irani made an insensitive remark on Sabarimala issue at the Young Thinkers’ Conference that not only created a huge controversy but also baffled many of us.
In the middle of a fierce debate over the Supreme court overturning the ban on women of menstrual age entering into Sabarimala shrine, she said:
“I am nobody to comment on the Supreme Court verdict but I believe I have the right to pray, but not the right to desecrate,”
She further added:
“Would you take sanitary napkins steeped in menstrual blood and walk into a friend’s home? You could not. And would you think it is respectable to do the same thing when you are walking into the house of God? So that is the difference.”
To stress her point further, Smriti shared a personal incident:
“I was once shooed away from praying inside a fire temple at Andheri and handed over my son to priest for completing Navjote formalities. I stood on the road outside and prayed.”
#WATCH Union Minister Smriti Irani says,” I have right to pray,but no right to desecrate. I am nobody to speak on SC verdict as I’m a serving cabinet minster. Would you take sanitary napkins seeped in menstrual blood into a friend’s home? No.Why take them into house of God?” pic.twitter.com/Fj1um4HGFk
— ANI (@ANI) October 23, 2018
Many men and women didn’t agree with this regressive thought and took to Twitter to share their disgust:
I have visited friend ‘s house while menstruating. I go travelling while menstruating. I do Yoga while menstruating. I work in office while menstruating. I shop while menstruating. I cook in my kitchen menstruating. Yet, nobody is offended. Not even the GODS! @smritiirani
— Ruchi Pradhan (@RuchiLee) October 23, 2018
If menstruation is impure then to me the entire creation (shristi) and our existance and individuality is impure
— Siona Gogoi (@AtomicBlow) October 23, 2018
Smriti Irani ji,
Will you refuse to welcome your friend to your home during menstrual cycle days ???https://t.co/emxEfTd1ZP
— Mudra Parashar (@MudraParashar) October 23, 2018
Wasn’t “God” the one who created women and their menstrual cycle????? so not only must women hide something as natural as menstruation.. but we must also keep it away from “the house of God” right.
— French. (@Jinx_Crimson91) October 23, 2018
A section of social media users also came to Ms. Irani’s defense saying that the minister’s comments were taken out of context:
Why twist the straightforward statement of @smritiirani out of context @ndtv ? She was not saying about women “wearing” pads and going anywhere. She was saying that in context of the news about someone carrying blood-soaked pads as “offering” to the #Sabrimala temple. https://t.co/w1zkDxlYkT
— Yashwant Deshmukh (@YRDeshmukh) October 23, 2018
The remark snowballed into controversy because of the confusion. It wasn’t clear if Irani’s statement differentiated between menstruating women wanting to enter a temple or the act of carrying a used sanitary pad to a place of worship.
While Irani’s clarification has not made any direct references, several people on Twitter mentioned that her quote was linked to a claim made by some sites ‘about activist Rehana Fathima had planned to carry soiled napkins to the shrine. There is no strong basis for making those claims and the activist has also denied the allegations.
In the midst of confusion and controversy, people openly sharing their views about the taboo topic of menstruation cannot be ignored as a silver lining.
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