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Minister Smriti Irani's comments on Sabrimala shrine raises protests

October 24, 2018

"Will you take sanitary napkins soaked in blood to a friend's home?"

This comment by Union Minister Smriti Irani coming in the midst of protests over women's entry in Kerala's Sabarimala Temple has attracted strong criticism from many people.

Speaking at an event, Irani said that everyone has "the right to pray, but not to desecrate." She was speaking at the Young Thinkers' Conference organised by the British Deputy High Commission and the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai.

It is plain common sense. Would you take sanitary napkins soaked in menstrual blood into a friend's home? You will not. And do you think it is respectful to do the same thing when you walk into the house of God? So that is the difference. That is my personal opinion. - Smriti Irani, Union Minister

Irani's remarks were immediately criticised on social media.

"Smriti Irani must be the only woman in India to get a period leave. I mean she won't take her blood-soaked napkins inside the sacred walls of her ministry building," said Dr Rama S.

Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, said, "Shameful comment by Smriti Irani. Is menstruating woman only a sanitary pad 4 this lady? When she has periods, doesn't she go out of her house? Doesn't go 2 her friend's place? Without periods, can there be babies? Horrible words reinforcing patriarchy & misogyny by a Minister!"

The Sabrimala shrine opened on 17 October for the first time after the Supreme Court lifted age limits on the entry of women. It closed five days later without even one woman entering the temple. Many women were stopped by protesters.

Protestors consider menstruating women as impure and oppose the judgement on the grounds that the ban is essential to respect Lord Ayyappa, who is considered celibate.

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