The UN’s fundamental position on equal rights for women applies across the board to all religions and in the case of Sabarimala, since the Supreme Court has ruled on women’s right to enter it, the world body encourages respect for rule of law, according to an official here…writes Arul Louis
While answering a reporter’s question on Friday about the Sabarimala controversy, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said: “You are aware of the UN’s position on equal rights of all people.”
Asked if the UN’s position on equal rights for women applied to all religions, including Catholicism and Islam, he said: “It applies across the board. The question is how that is to be carried out… this is a question on which the courts have pronounced themselves and we encourage respect for the rule of law.”
In answer to another reporter’s pointed question about the “frenzy” in Kerala over two women entering the Lord Ayyappa shrine and former UN Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor’s criticism of the women, Haq said: “This is an issue on which the Supreme Court of India has commented. So we will leave the matter in the hands of the rule of law authorities in India. Of course, we want all parties to respect the rule of law.”
Asked if not allowing women to enter the temple was a violation of human rights, Haq did not give a direct answer, but said: “We encourage all to respect the laws of the country.”
The Supreme Court ruled in September against the temple’s ban on women between the ages of 10 and 50 entering the shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.
After prolonged protests blocked women from entering the temple, two women in their 40s entered the shrine under police escort on Wednesday.
Demonstrations have been held across Kerala both in support of women entering the temple as well against it.
Tharoor, now a Congress Party MP representing Thiruvananthapuram, had criticised the women who went to the shrine on Wednesday, saying that it was an “unnecessary provocative act”.
But he added, that he was “very much in favour of women equality but was also in favour of respecting the sanctity of religious practices in our country”.