Smriti Irani’s Sanitary Napkins Remarks Were Twisted Out of Context. But They’re Still Regressive

Gender

Smriti Irani’s Sanitary Napkins Remarks Were Twisted Out of Context. But They’re Still Regressive

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

U

nion Textile Minister Smriti Irani waded into the raging controversy over the Supreme Court’s recent judgment to allow women aged between 10 and 50 years to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple, where they’ve traditionally been banned for fear of compromising the brahmacharya of deity Ayyappa. This is ironic, considering the controversy followed a tweet where she said that she did not, as a sitting minister, want to go against the verdict. Addressing the Young Thinkers’ Conference in Mumbai yesterday, Irani asked a loaded question that has led to widespread outrage: Would you take sanitary napkins seeped in menstrual blood and walk into a friend’s home? Why take them into the house of God?

To be fair to Irani, she appeared to be responding to reports that an activist had planned to offer a soiled sanitary napkin to Ayyappa in protest (a claim the activist herself denied). However, the backlash was swift, as her remarks were quickly perceived as a belief that women should not lead normal lives or be a part of society while they are menstruating.

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