Police report on Haritha issue sought

The Kerala Women’s Commission has sought a police report in connection with the Haritha case. Action would be taken based on the report, chairperson P. Sathidevi has said.

The complaint filed by 10 women, who were erstwhile members of Haritha, the women’s wing of the Muslim Students Federation, affiliated to the Indian Union Muslim League, was heard at the mega adalat in the city on Tuesday. Ms. Sathidevi said the students had been subjected to verbal sexual harassment.

However, the respondents did not turn up in the case. Of the 162 cases heard at the adalat, 71 met with the same fate. “This is a very disturbing trend. A lot of respondents fail to turn up for the hearing.

Now, we will seek the help of the police to bring them to the hearing,” she said. Speaking to the media after the mega adalat, Ms. Sathidevi said the commission was taking steps to strengthen and activate the vigilance committees in every local body that were formed 25 years ago, but fell defunct over a period of time.

The commission was planning to organise district level training and orientation programmes for the committee members as a first step. The decision comes in the wake of several complaints reaching the commission from rural areas that could have been solved locally with a bit of mediatorship. Though the Vigilance Committees were formed with this purpose, they had become defunct in most local bodies, the commission noted.

Ms. Sathidevi said that several family disputes, including those between parents and children, where the former were not being taken care of by the latter, between neighbours, over abusive language and minor problems in the marriage had been brought up to the commission. “These could have been settled locally and amicably if the vigilance committees were active”, she said. Meanwhile, the number of people breaking down before the commission, just due to stress, has forced the commission to recommend to the State government to form counselling centres in every local body for such people. “In these times of COVID, even children, let alone women, are facing a lot of mental stress.

There needs to be a mechanism to handle this situation”, Ms. Sathidevi said. Among the 162 cases heard by the commission on two days of the mega adalat.

Several complaints were from teachers of unaided schools, who approached the commission claiming that they were treated inhumanely by the school management. “They were made to work for nominal salaries and in some places, they were made to attest that they had received much more than they actually did. Besides, the workload is too high. They are made to do jobs other than what they were hired for.

If any one raised a voice against the injustice, they were being transferred elsewhere”, said M.S.

Thara, commission member.

However, no representatives turned up for the hearing from any of the schools.

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