Kerala Women's Commission Chairperson MC Josephine tendered her resignation from the post on Friday, June 25, after she received a massive backlash from across the state for her remarks on domestic violence during a television show.
A member of the Communist Party of India (CPI (M)), the former chairperson had eight months left to complete her five-year term in the office, The Indian Express reported.
'Then You Suffer' Comment
The incident unfolded on Wednesday, June 23, when a Malayalam channel 'Manorama News' ran its special program, discussing the harassment and abuse against women in their homes. The program gave women an opportunity to directly narrate their ordeal to Josephine and seek help.
A viewer called in the show and informed how she was brutally beaten up by her husband and mother-in-law. A resident of Kochi, the woman informed that she was subjected to abuse since she got married in 2014.
Josephine asked the woman if she had complained to the police, to which the woman said she had not disclosed the matter to anyone so far. The former panel chief replied, "ennal pinne anubhavicholu" - (Then, you suffer)".
Outrage Among Citizens
Josephine's comments created an uproar among the citizens of Kerala, as well as the opposition party leaders, and demanded her removal.
Reportedly, Congress staged a protest outside the CPI(M) office against her. The party's women's wing also burnt Josephine's effigy.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sobha Surendran requested Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani to initiate action.
The CPI(M) leaders also distanced themselves from the panel chief's remarks. According to the report the party held a meeting to address the issue. Later, CPI (M) state secretary A Vijayaraghavan informed the media that Josephine had issued an apology and had decided to resign.
The outrage was widespread because her comments come at a time when the state has been debating on the recent death of a 24-year-old woman in Kollam this week. The victim was facing harassment from the in-laws over dowry.
Response Over Backlash
In her clarification, Josephine said she spoke with motherly affection and denied having any other meaning to her reply.
The former chairperson said she was angry about women suffering silently. "I did not say this. There are women who aren't listening to us. We suggest women file complaints, making the case stronger as we can't reach everywhere," the media quoted her as saying.
She also said she realised that she could have responded to the woman's plight in another way. "If my words have hurt anyone, I regret," she added.