The Walls of 2019

20 January 2019

A brief reflection for Martin Luther King day.

In the U.S., an ugly steel wall with a price tag over $5 billion led to a political standoff that shut the U.S. government down. In the Indian state of Kerala, a human wall made of 5 million women (and some men)  in support of women’s rights to enter a Hindu temple accomplished its purpose. This wall was beautiful.

It was also brave. One of the women who entered the temple reported being beaten by a family member when she returned home.

David Leonhardt just published an opinion piece in the New York Times encouraging an organized wave of protest against the U.S. shut down and its effect on federal employees. I imagine a wall of five million people surrounding the White House.

P.S. I just received a link to a fascinating account of the Indian “wall” from Pratima Yadav, whom I met at the Indian Society of Labour Economics in Mumbai in December.

One comment on "The Walls of 2019"

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    Posted on behalf of an Indian friend, Bina:

    The wall in Kerala was for gender equality, which I support. But I take a rather different view on women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple, and its significance.

    The Sabarimala temple entry, as reported in the NYT and elsewhere, gives the impression that women of reproductive age are barred from all Hindu temples. This is not the case. I have visited many temples across India in adolescence and adulthood and never been stopped. Sabrimala and some other temples which bar women (and should not) are not the general rule.

    The real discrimination in temple entry is linked with caste, in the obstructions faced by the Dalit community to enter and worship. The overwhelming focus on women entering Sabarimala obscured the caste issue entirely. It is to protest this issue that we need a unity wall.

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