By: Soumyadip Dey
Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani’s comment on menstruating women entering temples has recently received a lot of criticism. She said: “I am nobody to speak on the Supreme Court verdict because I am a current serving Cabinet Minister. But just plain common sense. Would you take sanitary napkins steeped in menstrual blood and walk into a friend’s home? You will not. And do you think that it is respectful to do the same when you walk into the house of God? So that is the difference. I have a right to pray. I do not have the right to desecrate. That is my personal opinion.’ Metafact takes a look at the facts behind this comment.
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During the Young Thinkers’ Conference in Mumbai, organised by ORF on the 23rd of October, the Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani made a comment about menstruating women entering temples. She had later uploaded a video of the event. The event was also broadcast live on the Facebook page of ORF Mumbai.
The comment led to a lot of debate on social media, the Union Minister herself also called a reportage of the event fake, and then uploaded a video where she can be heard making the very same statements.
Metafact found consistent comments on Twitter on the Union Minister’s tweet as well as on tweets by journalists that there have been attempts by women activists to enter the Sabarimala temple with ‘blood soaked menstrual sanitary napkins.’
The claim has been widely circulated on Twitter by people who tried to justify the Minister’s comment or presented it as a proof that such an incident did take place and the Minister was not talking out of context or spreading false news.
Metafact cannot ascertain whether Smriti Irani’s comment was aimed at any activist who had intentionally taken a soiled sanitary napkin to the temple or whether the comment was a broader generalization aimed at the activists who have tried to enter Sabarimala.
However, the claims that a woman activist had taken or tried to take menstrual sanitary napkins inside the temple is completely false and was circulated widely on social media by right wing websites. The false news was circulated after activist Rehana Fathima tried to enter the temple under police protection.
However these news reports were completely unverified and the activist in question herself had denied these allegations. In an interview with the The Wire, she said the police had checked and verified the contents of the bag she took inside the temple.
While there are many instances of fake news being circulated on social media, we do not usually come across a minister making statements based on such rumours. While the minister did not directly refer to the false news, her comment along with the number of people trying to justify her comment using the false news is unjustified, as there are no reports to confirm it, and the police were carefully checking every person who was trying to enter the temple.