Friday, September 28, 2018

Social and religious stigma on menstruation must go, it is a form of untouchability: SC

Holding that menstrual status of a woman is deeply personal and an intrinsic part of her privacy, the Supreme Court on 28th September  said that social stigma associated with the natural, biological and physiological process of a woman has no place in a constitutional order and any discrimination on that basis cannot be allowed.
While allowing the entry of women devotees inside 
Sabarimala temple, the majority verdict of a five-judge constitution bench said that menstruation stage could not be a ground to create any social and religious barrier to women to enjoy rights to equality and dignity given under the Constitution and to exclude women on that basis was derogatory to an equal citizenship.
"The stigma around menstruation has been built up around traditional beliefs in the impurity of menstruating women. They have no place in a constitutional order. These beliefs have been used to shackle women, to deny them equal entitlements and subject them to the dictates of a patriarchal order. The menstrual status of a woman cannot be a valid constitutional basis to deny her the dignity of being and the autonomy of personhood... The Constitution must treat it as a feature on the basis of which no exclusion can be practised and no denial can be perpetrated. No body or group can use it as a barrier in a woman's quest for fulfilment, including in her finding solace in the connect with the creator," Justice DY Chandrachud said in his judgement.
Justice Chandrachud said that treating menstruation as polluting or impure and imposing exclusionary disabilities on the basis of menstrual status is against the dignity of women which is guaranteed by the constitution. Appealing for a change of mindset of mensturation, he said practices which legitimise 
menstrual taboos
limit the ability of menstruating women to attain the freedom of movement, the right to education and the right of entry to places of worship and, eventually, their access to the public sphere.
"Irrespective of the status of a woman, menstruation has been equated with impurity, and the idea of impurity is then used to justify their exclusion from key social activities. Our society is governed by the constitution. The values of constitutional morality are a non-derogable entitlement. Notions of purity and pollution, which stigmatise individuals, can have no place in a constitutional regime," he said.
"Prejudice against women based on notions of impurity and pollution associated with menstruation is a symbol of exclusion. The social exclusion of women, based on menstrual status, is but a form of untouchability which is an anathema to constitutional values," Justice Chandrachud said.
Delving on the issue of social stigma on menstruation, Justice RF Nariman said all the older religions speak of the phenomenon of menstruation in women as being impure, forbidding their participation in religious activity but the more recent religions have accepted it as a natural process which can not be ground of discrimination.
"However, in the more recent religions such as Sikhism and the Bahá'í Faith, a more pragmatic view of menstruation is taken, making it clear that no ritualistic impurity is involved. 

No comments:

Post a Comment