Fighting for women's cause

"I'll never let political colour affect my sense of justice."  

The State Women's Commission has been in the eye of a storm ever since she took charge as the chairperson a few months ago. But even as allegations flew thick and fast about the Government's appointment of an avowed Congress party loyalist as the Commission's chairperson, M. Kamalam was not perturbed.

``I've been working with people at the grassroots for so long that anyone who has known me would know that I'll never let political colour affect my sense of justice,'' she says.

Sitting at her modest office at the State Women's Commission, she spoke of the tightrope walk ahead of her.

``I know that the media and the public are keenly watching every step we take. It is good because it will also keep us at the Commission working hard,'' she says.

Now that the heat and dust had settled down, the Commission is all set to strengthen its infrastructure and the district-level and block-level vigilance committees. Adalats had been held in almost all districts, thus clearing the backlog of cases. The Commission had also held two meetings with the heads of various Government departments to discuss common issues faced by women. Legal literacy camps and counselling sessions were being organised extensively to educate women.

``What we really need now is a strong police wing to assist us. Like never before, the nature of the cases coming to the Commission these days is very disturbing, too cruel for words and often calls for swift action,'' she says. As one of the members in the State's first Women's Commission, which was headed by Sugathakumari, dealing with women's issues is not new to her. But these days, it is difficult for her not to be emotionally affected by some cases.

``These are hard times that women are going through and we need all the support that we can get. Women should create support groups and network themselves to tackle the increasing incidents of sexual crimes against them,'' she says.

The State had the dubious record of being second in the country, when it came to the rate of sex-related crimes. It was equally alarming that girls were being easily lured away from the safety of their homes by the glamour of showbiz or at times, easy money. ``I don't know why perversions and sexual violence have gone up so sharply here. I feel that today mothers have a greater responsibility towards educating and protecting their daughters. It is important that mothers become their daughters' best friends,'' she says.

She chose to disagree when asked whether the political appointments to the Commission were eroding its credibility. There is no reason why one's political leanings should be held out as an offence, unless the person let it colour his or her judgment.

``My chair has no politics. In fact, the last case I signed was in Kasaragod, where a prominent Congress leader has been accused of harassing his daughter-in-law,'' she says. While refusing to comment on whether the Government was neglecting the Women's Commission, she says that the Government could certainly do much to strengthen her hands.

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