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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

‘Then, you suffer’: Kerala women’s panel chief faces flak over remarks to complainant

"Then you suffer," Kerala Women's Commission Chairperson MC Josephine told a caller from Ernakulam district, complaining of domestic abuse, during a live phone-in show on Manorama News.

Written by Vishnu Varma | Kochi |
Updated: June 24, 2021 6:19:17 pm
MC Josephine, who has headed the women's panel since 2017, was asked to explain her comments in a meeting of the CPM state secretariat at the AKG Bhawan in Thiruvananthapuram Friday.

There has been intense public backlash after Kerala Women’s Commission Chairperson MC Josephine made a rude and insensitive comment towards a woman complaining of domestic violence.

During a live phone-in show on Manorama News, a caller from Ernakulam district reported that she was being subject to torture from her husband and mother-in-law. When Josephine asked her why she hadn’t approached the police, the caller said she didn’t tell anybody. To which, Josephine responded, “Enna pinne anubhavicho! (Oh, then you suffer!)”

Throughout the phone call, the women’s commission chief seemed at unease with the replies of the caller and kept interrupting. She advised the complainant to approach the family court so that her family can be compensated. “Did you understand what I said? If you don’t want to live with your husband, you should get a good lawyer and approach the family court to get the dowry back and compensation,” she said.

To another caller on the show, she said, “What you did was stupidity. After you got separated, why did you go for a compromise? You had one more child…let me talk. You can’t just go on talking…women are the ones who make all the mistakes.”

When asked by reporters about her comments later, Josephine, at first, denied making those remarks. “I have not made any slurs. I simply said she should have gone to the police,” she stated a little later.

Following her remarks, several political leaders called her out, demanding that Josephine be sacked from her post. Youth Congress state president Shafi Parambil said, “She should be appointed as the chief of the anti-women’s commission.”

In a Facebook post, Vadakara MLA and RMP leader KK Rema said, “She has spoken from the outset in a voice that smacks of arrogance and insensitivity, and provides no relief or support for victims. Such remarks underline that she doesn’t understand the sanctity of the post she’s occupying.”

CPM central committee member PK Sreemathy also said that Josephine should “certainly clarify and explain” if she has made the remarks.

“Why should Kerala’s women bear a person who responds to a helpless young woman with the arrogance of her privilege,” left-leaning poet Deepa Nishanth said over Facebook. “I hope that a humane person is appointed to the post.”

It’s not the first time Josephine, a central committee member of the CPM, has attracted controversy. Last year, when questioned by reporters about the commission’s stand on cases against CPM leaders, Josephine said her party acts as a court and a police station. The remark was condemned widely by Congress and other parties.

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