Saree-wearing transgenders face police resistance en route to Sabarimala

Saree-wearing transgenders face police resistance en route to Sabarimala
Transgender devotees packing the holy Irumudikettu before their trip to Sabarimala.
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Erumely: The Kerala Police have been accused of treating a four-member team of transgender pilgrims badly and blocking their trek to Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala. They were reportedly turned back because they were wearing sarees.

The transgenders have raised serious allegations against the police. Ananya, one of the four, said the police behaved very rudely when approached for security to visit the shrine. “The DySP tortured us mentally at the Erumeli police station, and insisted we dress up as men. We agreed, but they did not provide any security. Even the policewomen behaved very badly,” she said.

Ananya, Trupti, Renjumol and Avanthika were dressed in black sarees, the traditional pilgrim attire, and were carrying the customary Irumudikettu.

Ananya said they did not want to change the saree.

"The ban on menstruating women is not applicable to us. Though we have told this to police, they were not ready to allow us to proceed further. They harassed us mentally and forced us to wear male dress," Ananya said.

The devotee also said they would approach the High Court against the police's move.

However, Kottayam Superintendent of Police S Harishankar rejected the charges of harassment and said everyone had the right to offer prayers at Sabarimala.

"We need to get some more legal clarity in this regard. So, we will approach the High Court-appointed panel and seek their advice," he told reporters.

Sabarimala and nearby areas had witnessed frenzied protests after the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court order that allowed women of all age groups to enter the shrine. The SC had ruled that the ban on women in the age group of 10-50 as unconstitutional. However, even two months after the SC ruling no women in the barred age group could visit the temple. Though a dozen women had attempted the trek, they had to turn back after facing stiff resistance from devotees and right-wing outfits.

Chennai group to arrive

The Maniti women's fraternity based in Chennai, meanwhile, asserted they will indeed send 40 women pilgrims – including youngsters – to Sabarimala on December 23. They said the effort to get entry for women of all ages will continue until it is successful.

“The government has assured us protection,” Maniti co-ordinator Selvi told Manorama News.

Among the 40 who will be travelling to Kottayam and proceeding to Sabarimala is a 14-year-old girl and 14 others from Chennai, Tiruchi, Madurai and Coimbatore. Another 25 will come from Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.

“All are observing the customary vows. Some of them will wear the holy chain five days ahead of the trip. The others will do it at Pampa,” the Maniti organisers said. “The 40 also include those above 50. We had written to the chief minister seeking help. He said all can come. His office said the letter has been passed on to the police and that they will make necessary arrangements.

“We will meet the chief minister directly if we face resistance. Booking will be made online. We intend to help women who want to go to Sabarimala. That's our work.”

Read more: Latest Kerala news

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