India woman makes historic trek to ‘banned’ mountain peak as sexism row rumbles on

India woman makes historic trek to 'banned' mountain peak as sexism row rumbles on

An Indian woman has shattered another gender barrier in the country this week after climbing a mountain from which women were previously banned.

Dhanya Sanal, a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of Defence, scaled the 6,128-ft-high Agasthyakoodam peak in the southern state of Kerala on Monday, weeks after the provincial high court rescinded the ban imposed by the indigenous Kani tribe against women climbing it.

For generations, the Kani people have opposed female presence on the slopes of Agasthyakoodam, believing their presence would ‘desecrate’ the sanctity of the statue of their celibate Hindu god Agastya Muni, which sits at the summit.

Last November the Kerala high court ruled in response to a petition by women activists that restrictions on ascending the mountain, located some 30 miles from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, cannot be gender based.

It also summarily dismissed the Kani people’s plea that the verdict offended their beliefs and that allowing women onto the peak would ‘slight’ their god’s celibacy.    

Armed with the court order and dressed in jeans and a shirt, Ms Sanal, 38, made her way up the 14-mile-long, thickly forested route all the way to the summit.

She was the only woman in a group of around 100 trekkers, and on their way up they were confronted by a large number of Kanis who shouted slogans but made no move to stop her.  

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