The world we live in today is one that has evolved from a world riddled in severe patriarchal values. And no matter how far we think we’ve come from it, it’s painfully often that we come across remnants of this male-dominated system that mankind has grown from.
These restrictions on women are sometimes absolute, and selective at some places, but they are unabashedly imposed in places of public interest. Despite years of passionate protest against such injustice, and several women having flouted the bans, these rules are still upheld and it is valid reason for worldwide outrage.
Here are 10 places around the world that have rules against admitting women and they remind us that it isn’t such a perfect world we live in after all.
1. Mount Athos, Greece
This mountain and peninsula in northern Greece serves as a monastery to about 2,000 monks and have banned the female form – not just women, but animals too – for more than 1,000 years.
In the past, women have sneaked into the peninsula as a form of protest, but it’s always stirred up an outcry with the resident monks, who claim that the presence of women alters the social dynamics of the community and slows their path to spiritual enlightenment.
2. Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, India
One of Mumbai’s most iconic landmarks, the Haji Ali Dargah has been restricted for female access because in Islam, it is a ‘grievous sin’ for a woman to be in close proximity with the grave of a Muslim saint.
The current arrangement at the dargah allows them in, but the inner sanctum sanctorum is strictly off limits to them. This ban too, has seen multiple protests since it was enforced in 2015 and multiple petitions have been started to have the ruling reversed.
3. Mount Omine, Japan
Home to the Yamabushi monks, Mount Omine banned women from its estate to remove thoughts of temptation for them as they practised the strict self-denial of a hermit in the mountains.
Mount Omine’s prohibition is voluntary. The monastery has seen several breaches by feminists every year, but no trespassing charges are ever pressed. The ban has been challenged on numerous occasions, but in vain. The temple and local community stand by their “request” for people to respect their tradition.
4. Lord Ayyappa Temple, Sabrimala, India
All women between ages 10 and 50 – when they could be menstruating – have been banned from praying at this Hindu temple in Kerala. In fact, once after a 35-year old woman entered the temple, a priest even performed a purification ceremony.
Even though there has been much debate surrounding the ban recently and a petition to review it has been presented to the Supreme Court, it remains in place.
5. Jain Temple in Ranakpur, India
While women are technically allowed inside the premises, this Rajasthani Jain Temple, made of its landmark white marble, has a large board outside defining just how a woman can visit this place of worship.
Apart from a strict dress code that binds women, the temple absolutely does not allow menstruating women to enter.
6. Patbausi Satra, Assam, India
Women are banned from this temple to preserve its ‘purity.’ The temple, unsurprisingly, also cites menstruation as the reason behind the ban.
In 2010, Assam Governor JB Patnaik, who was visiting the temples in the region spoke with the authorities of the Patbausi Satra and took a group of 20 women in. Following this, the satra was briefly open to women before the rule was eventually re-imposed.
7. Lord Kartikeya Temple, Pushkar, India
The Pushkar temple worships the brahmachari form of Lord Kartikeya and women are banned entirely from entering the premises.
There is a myth that the Lord curses women who enter the temple instead of blessing them – even if their motivation is one that stems from submission and piety. The supposed aggression of the lord towards women is used to justify this ban.
8. Iranian sports stadiums
Since the revolution in 1979, women have been banned from attending all sporting events at stadiums around the country. Supporters of the ban claim it is inappropriate for women to participate in these events because male players wear shorts, vulgar language and behaviour is common and because it would lead to unnecessary mixing with men outside their families.
Originally the ban was on women watching all sports but only recently, women have been allowed to attend volleyball games and a select few events. But for most other sports such as football, swimming and wrestling, the stadiums are strictly off limits.
9. Muirfield Golf Club, Scotland
Believe it or not, just this year the East Lothian Club chose against accepting female members in a two-thirds majority vote where 64% voted in favour and 36% against.
They chose to uphold the vote even though the decision led them to be banned from hosting any Open Championship by the sport’s ruling authority.
10. Saudi Arabia
No, the country is not banned to women, but if you’re a female solo traveller, you’d have a better chance of getting to Mars. While women are allotted visas, all female visitors must be accompanied by a male guardian.
Also, Saudi Arabian cemeteries are entirely closed to all women, and they’re not allowed to drive.
Yep. This is the world we live in, ladies. It’s a man’s world, and from the looks of it, we’re on a very long road to completely changing it in favour of equality for women.