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Why more than 3 million women in India formed a 620km human wall.

– With AAP

Millions of women in India formed a 620km human wall this week to send a powerful message about gender equality.

Earlier this week, two women sparked protests across the country’s south when they entered Hindu temple in the state of Kerala, defying a centuries-old ban on women entering.

India’s Supreme Court in September ordered the lifting of the ban on women or girls of menstruating age – 10 to 50 years old – from entering the Sabarimala temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year.

But the temple refused to abide by the ruling and subsequent attempts by women to visit it had been blocked by thousands of devotees.

So it was a significant moment when the women, identified by police as Bindu Ammini, 42, and Kanaka Durga, 44, entered its walls.

However not everyone agreed with the progressive change and there were protests around the state this week,  AAP reports.

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In the face of such opposition, women decided to show their support for the two women and the ban’s lifting by standing side by side to form a gigantic, 620km long human chain.

The protest was organised by the state’s government and it’s been reported that at least three million and quite possibly five million women turned out.

Why were women banned in the first place?

Conservative Hindu groups say they believe women of menstruating age would defile the temple’s inner shrine.

News channels reported the chief priest briefly shut the temple for “purification” rituals after the women visited.

The two women, had tried to go in on December 24, and later approached police for help, an officer said.

“There was an elaborate arrangement for them to come just after the temple was opened early morning,” said the officer.

“The darkness gave them, and us, cover.”

Police were guarding the homes of the women after they left the temple and were prepared to let more women enter the temple, the officer said.

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