Another Kerala paradox: The state of its women

Kerala: A horrific story of sexual violence came to light Thursday when a woman alleged gangrape by four men and complained of mental harassment by the police

Written by Vishnu Varma | New Delhi | Published:November 4, 2016 1:23 pm
kerala rape, kerala gangrape, women in kerala, rape in kerala, crime against women in kerala, jisha murder case, soumya murder case, kerala police, crime in kerala A rape victim along with her husband holding a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on Thursday (PTI Photo)

In a room packed with reporters, she broke down, her sobs accentuating her every word. It was clear she was bogged down by the enormous weight of having to talk publicly about a horrific incident that happened to her two years ago.

“I did not commit any mistake. Yet they humiliated me and paraded me in front of everyone at the police station,” the woman said as blinding flashes from the still cameras in the room kept hitting her. Her face hidden by a white cloth, she could barely blurt out more than two sentences at a time before it was clear she was not in a mental state to talk about her ordeal.

Once again, a shocked modern Kerala looked on as a poor, not-so-educated woman in her 30s, accompanied by her husband, struggled profusely to recount a series of events that began with her gangrape followed by shaming by the police and the eventual forceful withdrawal of the case. At one point, one of the police officers is reported to have asked the woman which one of her rapists gave her the most pleasure. The accused, one of whom is a local leader of the CPM, threatened to leak the video of the rape if she took the case forward. Under intense pressure of the accused and the cops, the woman alleged she was forced to withdraw the case.

The irony of the matter is that the woman’s heartbreaking public ordeal comes just two days after Kerala proudly celebrated its 60 years of formation. It was an occasion when the state’s praiseworthy indices of development including its record on gender equality were heralded as a sort of ‘model’ for the country to follow. But the truth is Kerala is still a paradox — yes, the only state where women outnumber men, where female literacy soars above 91%, where maternal mortality is the lowest in the country and yet one in which women are not as liberated as empowered as they should have been. Sure, it’s better than some of the northern states, but Kerala has its delusions with respect to women.

According to a 2009-10 data set of the government, just over a fifth of the women in the state are working, paving way for male dominance in workplaces and unequal wage systems. In spite of self-help group movements like ‘Kudumbashree’ (which employs one of the largest women communities in Asia), women are restricted to doing menial jobs and rarely in-charge of households. The 80s and 90s were replete with films with scenes where women (mothers, wives or daughters) were rebuked for even joining a discussion with the men in the house.
What should cause greater alarm are the state police’s statistics released recently that showed an astonishing 910 rape cases being reported till July and nearly 7900 cases of crimes against women this year. Even as the state is appreciated for due reporting of crimes and the registration of FIRs, these numbers are not justified in Kerala where gender mobility is said to be far more improved than its northern counterparts.

As for the state police force, the rape survivor’s serious allegations of mental harassment reveal chinks in the armour. That a woman could be subjected to such inhuman treatment points to either a clear lack of awareness among the police force in dealing with sensitive issues or a deliberate ploy to weaken the mental strength of the complainant. That a state like Kerala which has a rich history of matrilineal and women-centric traditions would be witness to a woman’s public anguished cry for justice is indeed shameful. Not to forget, the bigger web of corruption, deceit and malfeasance that’s at play here if the woman’s allegations are to be believed.

If anyone thinks Thursday’s incidents were an aberration, it’s sadly not. Several months ago, the state had plunged into a similar trough of depression when media reported on the cold-blooded rape and killing of a young Dalit law student. And just a month ago, people of the state stood in disbelief as the Supreme Court commuted to life the death sentence of a convict who had pushed a young woman out of a train and sodomised her in the darkness of the night. These are not aberrations. These are signs that the gender structure in Kerala is fast eroding and that some climacteric steps by the government may be in order. We can’t not pretend to hear the wails of the woman at the press conference. Or else, it will haunt all of us just as it haunted me.

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  1. S
    sajin
    Nov 5, 2016 at 12:30 am
    delhi /s
    Reply
    1. O
      Ordinary Indian
      Nov 4, 2016 at 12:09 pm
      What do you expect of a Muslim state?? Seriously!
      Reply
      1. A
        Anu
        Nov 4, 2016 at 12:25 pm
        It is not only the problem of kerala, atleast woman in kerala have courage and confidence to come in front of Public and fight for their rights.....
        Reply
        1. A
          Arpan
          Nov 4, 2016 at 9:28 am
          Fake Fake people Rahul, Kejri, sitahlt;br/gt;Ram yechu and Jnu where is your human chain? You people n ur mentally poor followers are fake. Gaali dene ka mann kr r hai tum logo ko
          Reply
          1. B
            Balasubramanya
            Nov 4, 2016 at 8:43 am
            This type of incident bound to happen where ever Comrades rule the state. They are masters in these type of offences and murder and their specialty is that it will not come out .
            Reply
            1. S
              sham
              Nov 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm
              google - DONALD TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT VADAKYILlt;br/gt;google - CLINTON BODY COUNT
              Reply
              1. G
                gita
                Nov 4, 2016 at 12:38 pm
                Kerala is no place for women and....Hindus
                Reply
                1. I
                  indrajith
                  Nov 5, 2016 at 6:43 am
                  100 percent literacy state with s ruling with a fancy name GODS OWN COUNTRY..
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    Joseph R Stephen
                    Nov 4, 2016 at 11:17 am
                    What is need a CENTRAL AUTONOMOUS BODY with powers of CBI, monitored by Supreme court , away from the control of any local politicians ( GOONS and THUGS ) and local corrupt police.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Sadly everyone all over the nation expected MODI to do something to grant autonomy to investigating agencies, speed up courts , come out with judicial reforms etc. BUT MODI AND BJP has been investing time heavily in converting all this agencies into CHAINED SLAVES.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;It is not just Kerala, almost all states have more problem and Delhi has a mive problem. BUT MODI SLEEPS WELL and HAS GOOD DREAMS of GREAT INDIA.
                    Reply
                    1. R
                      Reshma
                      Nov 4, 2016 at 2:25 pm
                      hmm
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        Reshma
                        Nov 4, 2016 at 2:25 pm
                        oh! yeah yeah!!
                        Reply
                        1. R
                          Rakesh Katyal
                          Nov 4, 2016 at 9:13 am
                          If it was a BJPruled state w media, Kejriwal, RaGa , JNU all would have been out all guns blazing. But now there will be pin drop silence. So much for our Intellectuals and Seculars. Will Kejriwal and RaGadare travel to Kerala ??
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            Sitaram
                            Nov 4, 2016 at 2:30 pm
                            It is possible for such body to exist only when people will fund it directly and also elect/select the members of such a body. Something parallel to parliament but somehow getting funds directly from people. Can it be formed?
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              sajeev
                              Nov 4, 2016 at 9:54 am
                              Kerala is as bad as Delhi if not worse when it comes to treating women as s e x objects
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                sajeev
                                Nov 4, 2016 at 3:51 pm
                                From what I have seen of Kerala, women are scared to be seen in public after seven let alone speaking up. And Mallu men have this thing of staring in the most intrusive and insistent manner that can be really unsettling for most women.
                                Reply
                                1. V
                                  Vedic_Citizen
                                  Nov 4, 2016 at 9:47 am
                                  This Somalia has become topper in crime against women and alcoholism
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    Shriniwas
                                    Nov 4, 2016 at 9:49 am
                                    Where is Miss karat,Yachury , Khujliwal ,Yuvraj ,K Krishnan ? Hiding in burrows? Where is all media ?Now no one is discussing this serious topic on their prime time .Why?
                                    Reply
                                    1. M
                                      Maya
                                      Nov 4, 2016 at 12:06 pm
                                      Nobody is rushing to Kerala for photo shoot because as according to them, the naxal CPM, Congress etc are not doing anything wrong . Their ideology of rape and treating women as objects is in par with what Rahul, Kejri, Kanhaiya etc think is the right way to treat women. These politicians and press like ndtv have no respect for women and think this piece of news is not worth their time.
                                      Reply
                                      1. M
                                        MPV
                                        Nov 4, 2016 at 4:09 pm
                                        A very shameful Incident for entire Kerala Society. Since CPM members/corporators are the main accused and the victim is a poor woman and also Kerala is ruled by Communist Marxists,one hopes that Intellectual, Secular Women like Ms. Brinda Karat and Ms. Annie Raja speak out loudly and clearly and bring the culprits of their very own Communist Party to book. On other issues concerning their political rivals like Congress or BJP, both are very vociferous. Atleast, they should personally ensure safety of Women in Kerala under Communist Marxist rule. It is a paradox that Communist Party of Kerala oppose FDI(Foreign Direct Investment) into Kerala but welcomed and embraced other FDI(Foreign Direct Ideology) i.e. Communism/Marxism into Kerala. Real Hypocrites.
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                                        1. I
                                          Indian
                                          Nov 4, 2016 at 11:34 am
                                          Kerala is absolute PARADOX ----- a place of absolute shame
                                          Reply
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