One of the largest Christian conventions in Asia, the Maramon Convention, is again under criticism for imposing restrictions on the entry of women believers after 6.30 pm.
The 122-year-old annual get-together of Mar Thoma Christians of Kerala has always had a tradition of restricting women’s entry at night.
One of the committee members of the convention, Shiju Alex, read out a resolution seeking women’s entry at a managing committee meeting but his resolution was not even included in the minutes of the meeting, he told media.
The convention is due to start on February 12 on the banks of the Pamba river at Maramon in Pathanamthitta district.
“We will complain to the Women Commission Chief and will also approach court to remove such restrictions,” Shiju Alex said.
Women activists reasoned that if women could attend the convention sitting on the other bank of Pamba, then how come they are not safe if they crossed the river to attend it.
“They say women are safe if they attend the function at night like men. But they used to listen to the preaching sitting on the banks of the river far away from the convention center, so how come they are not safe by crossing the river,” asks Soniya George, a women activist.
However Maramon convention general secretary Fr. George Varghese refuted all the charges by saying that only a few people from the group have objections, which is not worthy of consideration by the church.
“We don’t even consider their objections. It is only a very few people,” he told media.
The resolution read by Shiju Alex says, “The safety of women is the responsibility of the Church and the convention which has set high standards of discipline should allow women and it will only help in the safety of women. The freedom of movement for either sex cannot be avoided as per the Indian Constitution. According to Fr Mathew Daniel, Marthoma Church historian, in the initial years of the convention, women were allowed entry during night also. However, due to certain practical reasons, their entry was stopped after evening,” as per a report in The Times of India.