Josephine quits as women’s panel chief

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: KERALA: 25/06/2021::: State Womens Commission Chairperson M C Josephine (LEFT) comming out of AKG Center after attending the CPI(M) State Secretariat meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday....   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson M.C. Josephine has resigned.

Ms. Josephine had drawn public ire for allegedly slighting a victim of domestic violence during a televised phone-in programme.

The incident has unleashed a social media storm, with women activists, human right organisations and Opposition parties wading into the mele. The online anger manifested as street protests by women activists of the Congress and the BJP.

The CPI(M) State secretariat, which met here on Friday, concluded that Ms. Josephine's continuation at the helm of the commission was politically untenable. The secretariat reportedly pointed out that Ms. Josephine's "needlessly strident tone" towards the petitioner was indefensible. The public had spurned the comment as high-handed and anti-egalitarian, it felt.

The controversy erupted at an inconvenient moment for the CPI(M). It had planned a mass campaign, Sthree Paksha Keralam, to defend gender justice.

The party had sought to occupy the political high ground by championing the cause of women at a time when domestic violence, imposition of dress and behavioural code, moral policing, honour killings, demonising inter-faith marriage and dowry harassment were on the ascend.

The secretariat had theorised that the rightward drift in society catalysed by the rise of Hindu and Muslim fundamentalism was the biggest threat to gender equality. Revanchist forces, seeking reinstatement of medieval values under cover of religion, had sought to relegate women to a subaltern position in society.

Hence, the CPI(M) secretariat required the party to reinforce renaissance values that forged modern Kerala. Hence, the party did not want the controversy involving Ms. Josephine to turn into a drag on its ambitious socio-political campaign.

CPI(M) State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan said Ms. Josephine regretted the episode at the meeting. She expressed her desire to resign.

The party backed her decision. “Society has realised the party's principled position,” he said.

Mr. Vijayaraghavan said for seven days from July 1, CPI(M) members would fan out across the State and knock on doors to spread the message of gender equality. The campaign would conclude on July 8. It would stress the feminist narrative, he said.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 9:48:03 AM |

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