Rehana Fathima: Activist denied entry at Sabarimala always made headlines for wrong reasons

First Published 19, Oct 2018, 6:55 PM IST
Rehana Fathima Activist denied entry Sabarimala  temple women menstrual age
Highlights

The activist, incidentally, was not a Hindu. It may be noted here that only Hindus are allowed inside the Sabarimala shrine. Her name is Rehana Fathima Pyarijaan Rehana. Who is she?

Sabarimala: Two women, one a journalist and another an activist, were refused ‘darshan’ at the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala on Friday. They were escorted in their trek by a heavy contingent of police, and went clad in helmets and other protective gear, expecting an attack by those opposing the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict on women's entry at the Sabarimala shrine.

The activist, incidentally, was not a Hindu. It may be noted here that only Hindus are allowed inside the Sabarimala shrine. Her name is Rehana Fathima Pyarijaan Sulaiman. Who is she?

Rehana is a resident of Kochi and her life and career have always been shrouded in controversy. She had made headlines early this year when she posted photos in which she is shown covering her breasts with watermelons. It was to support a campaign for women’s rights and liberty started by another activist. The initiative was called ‘Maaru thurakkal samaram (protest to bare the breasts). It was also in protest to a derogatory comment by a professor who had likened female breasts with watermelons. Her photos had been censured by Facebook, which pulled them down immediately.

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Rehana, who is employed with national cellular service provider BSNL, was also noticed on the social landscape of the country back in 2014 during the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign in Kerala against moral policing. Her partner, filmmaker Manoj K Sreedhar, with whom she shares an “open relationship” as her Facebook biodata says, had posted their kiss on Facebook.

The 31-year-old mother of two also appeared in an art film ‘Eka’. The movie was centred around the issue of intersexuality. The posters of the film carried the tagline: ‘I am intersex. I have a penis and vagina by birth. I want to live’.

The art-house movie Eka, which maps the journey from Tamil Nadu to Kerala of two friends — intersex person Eka Sindoori (played by Rehana) and her orthodox Malayali friend Laila.

The film is 120-minutes-long and directed by Rehana's partner Manoj Sreedhar. It was claimed to be the first film of its kind to be produced in India. 

The film was mostly shot by naked cast members. This is what Rehana said about shooting a nude scene: "We were shooting a scene in which I had to be naked. There were 18 crew members on the set. The scenes were not easy and the director has a habit of going for 20-25 takes. I was nervous.

“Are you conscious of being naked?” the director asked me. “Yes”, was my answer."

The director then asked everyone on the set to take off their clothes. The cameraman, assistant directors, light staff, production staff, and even the producer had to be naked if they wanted to be on the set for that scene.

Nudity also means innocence, the director told us. Only the ones with the purest of hearts can be naked.

Everyone got to work without any clothes. There was no gender bias there. It helped me overcome my fears and inhibitions. It was a different experience like it was with most scenes during Eka’s shoot.

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