An Indian activist who made a failed attempt to become the first woman to enter a prominent Hindu temple this month has been arrested for “exposing her thigh” in a Facebook photo.
Rehana Fathima, 32, has been suspended from her job and was remanded in custody over the picture, which showed her dressed as a pilgrim to the Sabarimala shrine in the south-western Indian state of Kerala.
The hilltop temple has been the subject of weeks of protests after the Indian supreme court lifted a ban on women of menstruating age worshipping at the site. Bands of male and female demonstrators have formed cordons and hurled rocks at the women who have tried to reach the inner sanctum. None of the women have succeeded so far.
And once turned away, she struck back:
Soon after, she posted a selfie on Facebook showing her dressed in black, with white sandalwood paste across her forehead and striking a pose associated with Ayyappa, the deity who is worshipped at the shrine.
A case registered by police in October claimed the photograph was “sexually explicit” and “wounded the religious feelings of Lord Ayyappa’s devotees.” Her attempts to prevent her arrest failed this week and she was remanded in custody on Tuesday.
The deity in question is the son of Shiva and Mohini, the one and only female avatar of Vishnu. His shrine in Kerala draws millions of pilgrims during mandala season (mid-November through mid-January). The pilgrimage is open to all except women in their childbearing years.