Kerala women panel chief Josephine roasted for ‘then you suffer’ retort. Apology follows
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala women’s commission chairperson M C Josephine lost her cool during a live television show when a woman who called into the TV show to speak about her husband and mother-in-law beating her, said she hadn’t complained to the police or told a soul about the thrashings she got at home.
“Then you suffer, OK,” Josephine shot back and disconnected the line. The state’s woman panel chief was on the show, a special programme put together by a Malayalam channel, to focus attention on women harassed and assaulted at home.
On June 21, a 23-year-old who married a government official last year died by suicide. Initial investigations by the police indicate that she was allegedly beaten for months by her husband who was upset with the dowry she had brought.
Josephine’s reaction to the woman’s plight on the TV show provoked sharp criticism on and off social media. Many people underlined that the woman, who was in an abusive relationship, had taken the first step when she dialled the show and should have been encouraged, not snubbed. Some of them were also people known to otherwise support the ruling the Communist Party of India (M), of which she is a central committee member.
Josephine initially sought to justify her response. But as she and her party came under pressure, the party released a fresh statement issued by her to express regret.
BJP state chief K Surendran said a FIR should be filed against her. “When a woman called up to narrate her woes, Josephine behaved in an insulting manner… How will women approach the commission with such a person at the helm?” Surendran asked.
The Kerala Congress also asked the government to remove Josephine. Its women’s wing also held a demonstration and burnt her effigy to make their point.
In her apology later, Josephine said a woman would get justice if she files a complaint.She said she was angry that many women suffer silently.
“I was talking to her with motherly affection. If my words have pained anyone, I regret,” she said, acknowledging that many women continue to suffer in silence and are scared of going to the police against abusive husbands and relatives.