Protesting against alleged loot of the cooperative banks in Kerala, the BJP, on Monday, embarked on a padayatra (foot march) under the leadership of actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi.
Rehana Fathima, an activist from Kerala, has been relieved off a POCSO case in which the state High Court acquitted her, asserting that a woman’s independent decision regarding her own body is a fundamental right to equality and privacy. Fathima, aged 37, had faced charges after a video of her with her minor children painting on her semi-nude body went viral in 2020. Following the incident, she was arrested and her bail applications were rejected.
The judge of the Kerala High Court deemed the act as a “harmless artistic expression” and dismissed any allegations of it being sexually explicit. The court stated that there was no evidence to suggest that the children were involved in pornography, and the video did not contain any sexual connotations. According to the court, painting on the exposed upper body of an individual, regardless of gender, cannot be considered a sexually explicit act. Consequently, Fathima was discharged from the case.
Who is Rehana?
Rehana Fathima Pyarijaan Sulaiman is a self-described feminist and has been involved in various women’s rights activism for many years.
Fathima first came to national attention in 2018 when she attempted to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The Sabarimala temple is a Hindu shrine that is traditionally off-limits to women of menstruating age. Fathima’s attempt to enter the temple sparked a major controversy and led to protests by both pro-women and anti-women groups.
Fathima has also been involved in protests against moral policing and sexism. In 2014, Rehana participated in the Kiss of Love campaign in Kerala, which aimed to protest moral policing. A video of her kiss with her partner, filmmaker Manoj K Sreedhar, was shared on Facebook. Additionally, she was the sole woman in the Ayyanthol PuliKali team, a traditional Onam tiger dance typically performed by all-male troupes.
Rehana, who earlier worked as a telecom technician at BSNL, also had an acting role in a film called Eka, which focused on intersexuality. The film’s posters featured the tagline: “I am intersex. I have a penis and vagina from birth. I want to live.” The producers claimed it was the first of its kind to be produced in India.
In May 2020, she faced termination from her position at BSNL following an internal investigation regarding the criminal charges filed against her. According to officials, her actions had allegedly tarnished the reputation of the company.
Born into an orthodox Muslim family, Rehana a mother of two has mentioned that she became disillusioned with religion following her father’s passing.
In November 2018, Rehana faced arrest by the police for allegedly posting content on Facebook that was deemed offensive to religious sentiments. After spending 18 days in jail, she was granted conditional bail by the High Court in relation to these cases.