Kerala women's panel chief on the mat for ‘arrogance’

Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson MC Josephine is in the eye of a storm for her allegedly unfriendly responses to women who call her to complain about domestic violence and other abuses.

Josephine is not new to controversies. She has been involved in several instances of complainants reporting often angry outbursts when approached to record their complaints.

The latest controversy arose when she visited the house of Vismaya, the 24-year old Ayurveda medical student, who was found hanging at her husband’s residence within a day of her sending images of her torture to her mother.

The girl’s parents have alleged that she was killed by her husband, whose family has been harassing the victim for more dowry. Reportedly, her parents had already given a Toyota Yaris car, Rs 10 lakh and one and half acres land by way of dowry.

When newspersons asked the Women’s Commission chairperson about the incident in which she had reportedly told a woman complainant ‘to suffer the consequences’ because she had not first reported the case to the police, she flared up.

She denied having told the complainant whatever has been attributed to her and questioned the propriety of mediapersons asking such questions on occasions such as the visit to the house of Vismaya, whose death has shocked the collective conscience of the people of Kerala.

She claimed that the pressure being brought on her on a daily basis as chairperson of the women’s panel was often unbearable and this often led to spontaneous responses. She said some women went on and on and refused to listen.

Josphine’s remarks have evoked widespread condemnation, including among CPI-M sympathisers, and led to calls for her immediate resignation. With the opposition raising the pitch against her, even the CPI-M leadership has reportedly expressed displeasure over her conduct.

The party has decided to discuss the issue at the next meeting of the state secretariat. Central Committee member PK Sreemathi said Jospehine must be prepared to apologise if she had made a mistake.

Josephine had made several controversial remarks in the past. When the charge of sexual abuse was levelled against former party MLA PK Sasi and the matter was left to be decided by the party instead of reporting it to police, she had said that the party was the court as well as police station for party workers.

Similarly, when someone called her on behalf of an 89-year old woman, who was subjected to physical abuse, Josephine reportedly scolded the complainant. Her arrogance has caused embarrassment to the party on several occasions, which has prompted the party leadership to probably harden their stand against her.

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