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MILLIONS of women lined up in a “women’s wall” stretching almost 400 miles from Keralan capital Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in the north of the state to stand against the oppression of their sex today.
The wall, which saw women line roads and motorways across the Indian state make clenched-fist salutes and listen to speakers condemning sexism and discrimination, was organised by civil and religious organisations brought together by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which leads Kerala’s government.
The show of force comes after confrontations over women’s right to enter a temple in Sabarimala in the state. Upheld by India’s Supreme Court, women’s right to go inside has been defended by the Keralan government but women seeking to do so have come under attack by Hindu chauvinists and ministers from Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP have openly called on followers to defy the court’s ruling and prevent entry.
Keralan Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said: “Addressing women’s issues is part of the CPI-M’s class struggle. Such an initiative is required to protect the progressive traditions of the state” at a time when the BJP was threatening to “drag [India] back to the era of darkness.”
The party estimated the number of women participating at five million. Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja took her position as the “first link” in the chain at one end, while CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat was the final link at the other. Ms Karat declared that Kerala’s women had “written history” and sent a powerful message to the whole of India.
At Chettukundu in Kasaragod women in the line were attacked by stone-throwing “Sangh Parivar goons,” the party reported. The term refers to a number of community organisations linked to the BJP, the most prominent of which is the party’s street fighter wing, the RSS.
The CPI-M said the attack exposed the “cowardice” and “isolation” of the BJP in Kerala and that the success of the wall meant “the divisive forces led by RSS-BJP have been defeated once again.”
Rights organisations regularly name India as the worst country in the world to be born female, citing widespread infanticide of baby girls, child slavery, domestic violence and a rape culture that is often encouraged by government ministers.
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