KOZHIKODE/T’PURAM: Clamour for the resignation of Kerala Women’s Commission Chairperson MC Josephine intensified on Thursday, after her insensitive remarks to a woman complainant during a television phone-in programme courted controversy. Opposition Congress and the BJP, and CPI’s student wing AISF sought immediate removal of Josephine while CPM observed a studied silence.Josephine, a central committee member of CPM, shouted ‘Then, you suffer’ at an aggrieved complainant, when she told the chairperson that she had not approached the police with a domestic violence complaint, despite her husband and mother-in-law harassing her.
The clip of the conversation, during which Josephine is seen becoming restless several times due to poor audio quality, was shared by thousands on social media platforms. “If you want to get back the dowry and compensation, hire a good lawyer and file a case in family court. If you want, a petition could be filed with women’s commission as well. But there’s no use as your husband is abroad,” Josephine told the complainant with hardly any empathy.
“Did you get me?” she asked in high decibel while ending the conversation.
On Thursday, Josephine made another controversial comment about dowry. “If someone still wants to pay dowry, credit that to the account of woman,” she told reporters in Kollam. Acting swiftly, Kollam District Congress Committee president Bindu Krishna lodged a complaint with the women’s commission itself, demanding action against the chairperson.
Nat’l women’s panel takes cognisance of Josephine’s comments
State Congress president K Sudhakaran sought immediate removal of Josephine from the post. “A person who has such cruel, contemptuous and ridiculous attitude towards a complainant shall not continue at the helm of women’s commission. All cases considered by Josephine should be reinvestigated,” he said in a statement.BJP president K Surendran said the women in the state do not need such a women’s commission chairperson. RMPI leader and MLA K K Rema said Josephine had humiliated the complainant and she had no right to continue in office.
The AISF state secretariat demanded sacking of Josephine.“She is a shame to society hence should be sacked outright. Those responsible for protecting the women folk are behaving like this which is no a less offence,” said AISF state president P Kabeer.National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma took cognisance of the comments made by Josephine after BJP national executive member Sobha Surendran brought that to her attention.At first, Josephine denied allegations of humiliating the complainant.
Speaking to reporters in Kollam after visiting the house of Vismaya, the victim of dowry torture, Josephine said she had advised the woman to approach police with all sincerity as the women’s commission is not equipped to deal with all complaints simultaneously. However, by evening, she issued a detailed statement expressing regret.
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“I came to know that it was a phone-in programme only after reaching the channel studio. The complainant’s voice was weak hence I could not hear her properly. I asked her why she didn’t approach the police, by taking the freedom of a mother. It was an expression of my indignation over girls not approaching police with their issues. On a second thought, I realised that my words were unwanted,” she said in a statement.
The CPM state secretariat, which meets here on Friday, will discuss the controversy. It is learnt that the detailed denial issued by Josephine was sort of an anticipatory bail ahead of the meeting. Senior CPM leaders refrained from making any comment.
Josephine’s remarks had become controversial in the past too. While answering questions by reporters when the sexual harassment case against ex-MLA P K Sasi was in news, Josephine said her party had been functioning as a court as well as police station. When there was a complaint against LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan following his sexist remarks against Ramya Haridas, MP, during the Lok Sabha election campaign, Josephine downplayed it saying the criticism against him was the best punishment.
The women’s commission led by Josephine assumed office in May 2017 for a five-year tenure.
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