The Travancore Dewasom Board president, who has earlier made misogynist comments as well, says women’s entry into the temple will also lead to security issues
The chief of the board that runs Kerala’s Sabarimala temple has said that allowing women inside will lead to “immoral activities” and turn the place into a “spot for sex tourism like Thailand”, hours after the Supreme Court decided on Friday that a Constitution bench will look into the validity of a decades-old ban.
The comments by Travancore Dewasom Board (TDB) president Prayar Gopalakrishnan drew condemnation from the state’s temple affairs minister Kakampally Surendran. Gopalakrishnan has made similar controversial statements in the past.
“If women are allowed, we can’t ensure their security. We don’t like to convert it as a sex tourism spot like Thailand. Even if the court opens its doors I don’t think self-respecting women will dare to go up to the hill shrine,” he said.
Females between 10 and 50 – when they are most likely to be in the menstrual age – are banned from the Sabarimala temple, which sees the world’s second largest seasonal pilgrimage after the Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The ban will be tested against India’s constitutional safeguards that include a right to practice religion without any discrimination.
“It is an age-old tradition and all are bound to respect it. If women are allowed in rush hours it will lead to many issues. Nobody can ensure their security. There are chances for immoral activities also,” Gopalakrishnan said.
The state government, which is in favour of the ban being nixed, chastised the board chief. “I don’t know how he made such a foolish comparison. He insulted women and pilgrims alike. He should withdraw his statement and tender an apology,” said minister Surendran.
Two years ago, the TDB chief said women will be allowed into the temple if someone invents a machine to check their “purity”, an allusion to menstruation. The remark prompted a protest, with activists starting a campaign “Happy to Bleed”.