A heated debate over a video posted by Kerala activist Rehana Fathima earlier this year — one which led to her arrest — has resurfaced. After the Kerala High Court refused to grant the activist bail for her protest video, in which her two minor children are seen painting her semi-naked body, the Supreme Court had some harsh words for Fathima on Friday.
“Why do you do all this? You might be an activist (but) what kind of nonsense is this? It is obscenity you are spreading. It will leave a very bad taste in society,” a three-member bench led by Justice Arun Mishra said in its ruling on Friday. “What impression will be growing children get from this act?” the bench asked the activist, before going on to reject her plea for protection from arrest. Fathima has been charged under the IT Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The minors seen in the video are her 14-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. In her plea, Fathima had said that she had “intended to normalise the female form for her children and not allow distorted ideas of sexualisation to pervade their minds”. “Goddesses in Kerala are frequently depicted in idols and murals with bare breasts. When one prays at the temple the feeling is not of sexual arousal but one of divinity,” the activist argued before the Supreme Court bench.
The Kerala High Court had earlier ruled, however, that it seemed as though “children were used for sexual gratification” in an “obscene” manner, a charge that Fathima had challenged in the Supreme Court. The activist has made headlines a few times in the past as well, most notably back in 2018, when she tried to enter the Sabarimala Temple, wearing body armor. The activist eventually couldn’t enter as was stopped by a large mob of protestors. Her home in Ernakulam was vandalised by those protesting women’s entry into the shrine, and the activist also lost her job with the BSNL as a fallout. Now with the Supreme Court striking down her request to be released, it looks like she may soon be arrested as well.
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