Health Minister, women's panel demand apology from Chennithala for insensitive rape comment

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala

Thiruvananthapuram: Congress leader and Kerala's Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala faced the flak of the state's Health Minister KK Shailaja and women's panel for his insensitive remark in connection with a rape case on Tuesday.

Chennithala's statement came during a press conference after the Congress-led UDF meeting when a scribe asked him about a junior health inspector who was arrested yesterday on charges of raping a woman who sought a COVID-19 certificate and if he was affiliated to the Congress party.

"Is it written somewhere that only DYFI (CPI-M youth wing) workers can sexually abuse women? It's all lies that the accused belongs to the Congress party or anything," Chennithala said denying that he belongs to any service organisatmion affiliated to the Congress.

The statement drew a flurry of criticism with state Health Minister K K Shailaja and the state women's commission asking Chennithala to withdraw his remarks and demanding an apology from him.

"The Opposition Leader, who made derogatory statement against women should apologise.

Those who disrespect women will have no place in the health department," Shailaja said in a Facebook post.

State women's panel chief M C Josephine said such a statement from the Opposition Leader was not acceptable.

"The statement must be withdrawn and the Opposition Leader should apologise to the Kerala society," she said in a tweet.

However, Chennithala, later issued a clarification, saying his words were cherry-picked and used against him.

"What I said was that it is not just DYFI workers, but workers from the Left-affiliated service organisation NGO Union too are involved in sexual abuse.

What I meant was that no women should be abused," Chennithala said.

The health inspector was arrested following a complaint from a woman who said he had invited her home to give her a COVID-19 certificate and raped her, police said.

The woman in her complaint stated that she went to his house on September 3 and was sexually attacked after being tied up and was allowed to leave only the next day.

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