Haji Ali Dargah Judgment: Women Won Where Patriarchy Thrived


Women cannot be treated as another fellow being, a human at that, till the point they are constantly sexualized.

The above statement, as per my perspective, holds true as much as it did when Draupadi was off-clothed, or even now when a woman walking down is nothing but provocation. Civilizations have evolved, so has the governance, but it’s the mindset that is still inspired from the past.

A person walking down would not notice anything but your naked legs, or whilst donning a saree, your back and your stomach would grab eyeballs. The nakedness of a woman’s body always attracts attention, so much so that, even the entertainment industry basks in the glory of nakedness. We haven’t and, as I fear, will never be able to get past the sexualized image of a woman.

The body is up for grabs, to show dominance, to assert supremacy and to further ensure the second-class nature of women. No lady is immune from the rapey thoughts of the men who find pleasure and certain sort of egoistical boost into demeaning women and sexualizing them. Sadly, women continue to be at the receiving end of sexual jibes and body-shaming comments. It is a dream to spend a single day without being ogled by shameless men who won’t take their eyes off, even after you noticing their sight.


However, times have changed, even if the thinking hasn’t. Women have started raising their voices, trying to challenge the patriarchy in our society and unleashing their feminism for the world to see. The true feminism, not the adulterated untrue version of what feminism is. One such woman was Trupti Desai who went on a spree of challenging religious authorities over the banned entry of women.

She challenged temples to allow women to enter the inner sanctum even if they are menstruating, as it’s nothing impure and is, indeed, a by-product of the miraculous gift that the women body is bestowed with. She challenged Haji Ai Dargah in Mumbai to allow the entry of women in the inner sanctum sanctorum, even when till 2011 such restriction wasn’t imposed by the Trust. After facing abuses, and protests that catered to her move of challenging patriarchy, the woman didn’t give in and fought for it relentlessly.

Finally, the Bombay High Court has ruled that the women can enter the inner sanctum of the Dargah, as their ban was nothing but failure of fundamental rights on which our country proudly stands. This indeed is a great step for all the activists who were part of ‘Haji Ali for All’, and a great stand towards the reeking nature of the infamous patriarchy.

Though the move has been lauded by many, the Trust had something quite disturbing to say. The trustees defended the ban, citing the reason of increased cases of sexual harassment and eve-teasing, and the show of breasts.

Instead of efforts to protect women from such harassment, which occurs in constancy even at the place of God, they inhibit women from offering prayers. They followed the same course as many people do in order to avoid rapes- control the women, while the men can rage with their indecent and heinous acts. Because obviously, confining women has always been the easiest method to ensure male supremacy and also to avoid sexual harassment. Too lazy to act, apparently.

The Trust must be at liberty to take steps to prevent sexual harassment of women, by making provisions and taking effective steps like having separate queues for men and women, and I wonder what stops them to do a duty that every citizen must be entitled to pursue. It is surprising that a body part of a woman can invite sexual harassment, and covering up seems the decent and apt idea, because who would make the effort of challenging something that stinks of nothing but regression.

We all cherish and take pride in our rich cultural history, even if it involves discrimination, exploitation and disrespect for a gender.

This ruling by the High Court has indeed signified a greater change in the history of our times. Reinstating the lost glory of freedom, the judgment has finally set the bird free when many were busy trying to clip away the wings.

Yugansha Malhotra

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The Viewspaper