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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

‘Then you suffer’: Kerala women’s panel chief resigns after backlash on comments

Josephine is a member of the CPI (M) central committee. She had eight more months left to complete a five-year term as the women’s panel chief.

By: Express News Service | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: June 26, 2021 4:34:01 am
MC josephineMC 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. (Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson, M C Josephine, resigned from her post on Friday after her remarks to a woman complaining of domestic violence on a live TV show on Wednesday created a furore across the state.

Josephine is a member of the CPI (M) central committee. She had eight more months left to complete a five-year term as the women’s panel chief. Over the past four years, Josephine has courted controversy several times with her remarks.

On Wednesday, Josephine was participating in a live phone-in programme on a Malayalam TV channel. During the show, a woman called- in and told Josephine about alleged harassment she was facing from her husband and mother-in-law. Josephine was heard asking the woman “did you complain to the police.” When the woman said she had not disclosed the matter to anyone so far, Josephine replied, “ennal pinne anubhavicholu (then, you suffer)”.

Her reaction created widespread outrage across the state at a time when Kerala has been debating the alleged dowry harassment death of a 24-year-old woman in Kollam early this week. Opposition leaders demanded Josephine’s resignation and the Congress announced an open protest against her.

The CPI(M) also distanced itself from the senior leader. After the meeting of the party state secretariat, CPI (M) state secretary A Vijayaraghavan told the media that Josephine’s reaction did not go down well with society at large. “The secretariat discussed the issue and Josephine expressed her willingness to resign. She has apologized for remarks,” said Vijayaraghavan.

In another audio clip which surfaced in the media on Friday, Josephine was purportedly heard admonishing a woman complainant who said she was the victim of an alleged marriage fraud. “I don’t have time to listen to your old saga and you are to be beaten,” a voice purported to be Josephine is heard saying.

Josephine was appointed the women’s commission chairperson during the last CPI (M) regime.

In 2019 when then CPI (M) legislator P K Sasi faced charges of sexual misconduct, Josephine had defended her party colleague saying that the panel cannot take a case in the issue. She went on to say that CPI (M) has its own way of dealing with such cases.

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