A raging debate over whether menstruating girls and women can enter a top Hindu temple in south India set social media abuzz on Monday, with hundreds of people posting their images with the message #HappyToBleed to call for an end to the taboo against periods.
Last week, the chief of the board that manages Sabarimala Temple in Kerala was reported to have said women could be allowed in only after the invention of a machine to ‘check their purity’, alluding to their menstrual cycles. Currently, women of reproductive age are not allowed to pray inside this temple.
The Facebook page of the campaign, which started gathering steam on Saturday, said: “Happy To Bleed is a counter campaign launched against menstrual taboos, and sexism that women are subject to through it. It acknowledges menstruation as a natural activity which doesn’t need curtains to hide behind.”
The Twitter hashtag of the campaign was trending in India on Monday evening, according to Trendsmap India.
News reports had last week quoted Travancore Devaswom Board chief Prayar Gopalakrishnan as saying that he would think about letting women into the temple when a machine is invented to check if it is the “right time”. Gopalakrishnan later said he had been misquoted.
Menstruating girls and women are not allowed to enter several temples across the country, or touch certain food items. According to a news report, millions of girls face social discrimination, reproductive health problems and low self-esteem due to lack of awareness about menstruation.
The #HappyToBleed campaign began after Gopalakrishnan’s comment went viral on social media. “It (the campaign) urges young women to hold placards/sanitary napkins/charts saying Happy To Bleed, take their pictures, upload it to their profiles, and send it to us, in order to oppose the shame game played by patriarchal society since ages,” the Facebook initiative said.
Women and men across social media platforms took a cue from the initiative and posted hundreds of photos on Twitter and Facebook in support of the campaign.
#HappyToBleed so relieved that people are questioning the sexist ideology that has prevailed for centuries.— Keren Benjamin (@Kerenbenjamin25) November 23, 2015