Skip to main content

Shweta Menon Molestation is no Big Mystery, Happens with most women in Kerala

Last week, Shweta Menon hit the headlines across the nation and became the most talked about topic among Keralites in particular. I am not a fan of Shweta Menon and I can barely connect to the genre of movies that she does. But that has nothing to do with the fact that I feel quite angry and outraged by the way things have been snowballing against her simply because she had the guts to expose what had happened with her in broad daylight.  

Shweta Menon Molestation: The Reported Story 

The reported story is that Shweta Menon attended a local boat race as the chief guest and after the event, she told the media that a local politician had sexually misbehaved with her during the event. Hell broke loose after she said this. 

Immediately after hearing this news, I told those who were with me at the time, "Within hours, she will withdraw her complaint." Okay, so no one believed me. 

I was told 'No, she's a fighter and she will not spare the politician' and 'She has mass support and she will fight this legally.' 

I was 100% certain that Shweta Menon will withdraw her complaint. Come on, if nothing else, I have lived in Kerala for a good number of years and I am sorry to put it like this but I am very certain about the sick mentality rampant there when it comes to issues such as eve teasing and sexual harassment.

The clear lack of an institutional response to safeguard the rights and welfare of women is most urgent in Kerala and the need of the hour there but it doesn't seem likely to materialize anytime soon.  

Shweta Menon Molestation: What made her change her mind?

Some plain but very obvious guesses:

1. Her family would have been frightened for her safety (and theirs) given the kind of political threats, blackmails they would have been tackling in the hours after she gave her interview.

2. Her industry colleagues who are probably more familiar with the rules of the political game would have advised her against taking on a powerful politician.

3. There were direct threats given to her by different politicians through media interviews, particularly hinting at Income Tax issues. For actors and celebrities, that is the Achilles heel and Kerala's politicians are smart enough to use that power to get what they want - which in this case - is to make the victim look like a characterless woman who deserved being molested. 

As a Keralite, I hate to say this but that sick mentality is unfortunately rampant in Kerala. If a girl/woman is expressive about her views, she is labelled a rebel, characterless, immoral and so on. If a girl/woman interacts or has discussions with men openly on issues that are controversial, again, you meet the same fate. And last but but not the least, if a girl/woman makes the BIG mistake of showing confidence about herself and her views, then that nails it for the moral police and the society in Kerala. 

Shweta Menon Molestation: What about the other women in Kerala? 

There have been many instances of harassment and sexual molestation I have heard about in Kerala and all of it shocks and appalls me. 

For instance, in Kerala, there are many 'respectable' male doctors who are known to take advantage of the fact that their women patients have to strip before them. They touch them in the most inappropriate way and act as if it is part of the medical examination. 

Trust me, I am a doctor's daughter, a doctor's sister and a doctor's sister-in-law so you can bet that I wouldn't say this if I didn't know from reliable sources. And for the same reason, I NEVER go to a male doctor even if I have a cold. Unless it is my father, brother or cousin or they take me for the medical examination. The tough thing is that it is next to impossible to prove that a doctor is touching you inappropriately because that is part of the job! You cannot prove it in court unless you are ready to totally undergo a humiliation trial in front of a hundred people!

But sexual harassment in Kerala doesn't stop there.

I recall a friend (a Bank Manager in a pvt bank in Kochi) telling me that she had worked in Bangalore and had got transferred to Kochi. Her job involved visiting the bank's high profile customers, introducing them to some of the bank's latest financial products and getting them to commit to those. She told me that in seven out of ten visits, the men conveyed sexual hints such as they would sign for whatever investment plans she offered them and they tended to ask, "What will you do in return for this favor?" 

Here is the clincher: These men are not riff raff. They belong to Kerala's higher socio-economic strata - they are well to do, have families of their own and most are in their early 40s and they are hinting this openly to a working woman in the comfort of their own homes.

Another friend who set up a legal practice in Kochi told me this in utmost confidence, "If you are a fairly good looking woman who is doing independent legal practice, get ready to tackle sick male lawyers (esp in the top slot) and even those at the helm of deciding cases may be dropping hints to you."

I felt like throwing up. Honestly!  It really sickens me that men in any society, particularly in Kerala, can treat working women this way.  

Shweta Menon Molestation: What's going wrong with Kerala?

Now the question (coming back to Shweta Menon) is: If this is what happens with a popular actress who has clout, industry and mass support, can you imagine what the situation is like for ordinary girls and women who are forced to put up with sexual misbehavior and dare not report it? Legally, how does one even begin to fight this problem? 

Keralites would have admired and supported the actress if she had fought this case through thick and thin because she is someone who could have done it. It is her personal choice that she withdrew the complaint and we have to respect that too.

The saddest thing about this whole incident is that it has shown that men in Kerala can get away with molesting a woman in broad daylight and they can silence her if she protests.

Personally, it is this sick mentality that I find most ugly and unacceptable about Kerala's so called 'educated' society. I am not saying all men in Kerala are like that. But unfortunately, it is increasingly so and I don't see anything changing for the better unless women show more guts and men who aren't sexually harassing women come forward to openly support them and institutions also strengthen their support for those who are victims of sexual harassment.

On a sarcastic note, I would say that 'Peedanam' or 'molestation' should be made Kerala's trademark synonym because the warped mentality of men in the state seems to be increasing day by day. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against men but somehow an increasing number of men from Kerala offend all women by staring not at their faces but at their bodies when conversing, dropping sexual hints in conversations and not respecting some basic body space in interactions, among many other issues. And this is the case even with many of the Malayali men who are living outside Kerala! Note: I am referring to an age group here: those in their early 40s onward. 

My only hope is that the next gen youth in the state may have a different perspective towards these issues. I have interacted with a lot of tweeps and youngsters through social media. I also attended a Twitter festival in Kochi where I experienced, with delight, an openness between youngsters and saw that they treat each other with respect as individuals. My only hope is that they may be able to change the way things are in Kerala and turn the tide against those who indulge in sexual harassment. 

But, is that too much to hope for? Time will tell.

Other Popular Posts

Comments

Vinaya Naidu said…
Even education does not change a society's attitude towards women! Horrid story this..been reading in the news about Shweta having taken down her complaint.
Yes, the future depends on generation X
harimohan said…
dear Swapna
very timely post
agree with you with all its education Kerala has its attitudes arising from the wrong end specially males strangely the females here go along with this iam not generalising do you remember joseph who pawed a housewife in a flight and his wife a lady doctor vouched that the lady had told a lie !and her husband would not do that
being a male doctor practising for more than 3 decades there are many who are ethical in their behaviour but again black sheeps could be possible
about modes of harrasement kerala and keralites are masters we know after running a charitable organisation what all they could do
overall we are better off away from gods own !
Manoj Isaac G said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
@Vinaya: You are right about the society's attitude towards women. Increasingly intolerant despite the growing number of educated people...also shows that education has very little to do with how men and women are able to treat each other with basic tenets of respect....esp men who do such heinous crimes against women, one has to say.
@Harimohan: So right about Kerala, I agree with all the points you mentioned here, Hari uncle.
@Manoj: Appreciate your honest comments and have no problem with it but the issue here that we are strongly condemning is not about prostitution but sexual harassment that is an offence as per Indian law.
Manoj Isaac G said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

Most Popular Posts

Why chant Ramayana during the month of Karkidakam

For Keralites across the world who follow the Malayalam calendar, today marks the beginning of the month of Karkidakam. This month, which, decades ago, was known and slightly feared for its torrential rains and negative impact on the health, wealth and well being of Kerala's rural community. 
Why chant Ramayana during Karkidakam To ward off the negative energy unleashed by Nature and its possible repercussions on one's family's overall well being, the wise elders introduced the timeless tradition of every family reading the Ramayana as an oral, spiritual tradition. Thus, it goes without saying that for Keralites who embrace these traditions, the act of reading the Ramayana is as much a spiritual cleansing as it is a kind of tradition they can pass on to bond with their loved family members, particularly children.
In the Ramayana, there is no 'preaching of principles' but you are taken through the Avatar's journey as a human being. Lord Rama depicts how a man shoul…

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

Mahadmrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra nee

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Do read my post: Does Mahamrityunajaya mantra really work?Of course, it does but you need to undertstand the meaning and significance of the mantra first.
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. [ Do READ: THE POWER OF LOVE]
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he becam…

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered that I would receive such online abuse for writing this or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience or a perspective, not to insult others.  My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to abuse me because our journeys are entirely different narratives. My life and yours are not the same at any given point of time.

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.A new book 'Ants among Elephants' written by Sujatha Gidla, who writes about herself as being born 'an untouchable in India' teaches you everything you probably want to know abo…

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! 

[DO READ: The POWER OF LOVE]

Earth Angels have amazing superpowers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions and  becoming invisible at will.
[MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in …

Top 10 Skincare tips for Summer

Come summer, and we women worry a lot about how the sun lashes out on our skin. True, skincare tips for the summer are plenty but what about the hushed secrets - yes, those tried and tested family secrets that are passed on from mother to daughters? [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

FOLLOW MY BOARDS ON PINTEREST

Here are some that are totally easy to do. Best of all, these are effective and bring on a feel-good factor in the peak of summer.

1. Replace water with rosewater. It keeps your skin luminous and fragrant throughout the day. It's a good toner too.

2. Cleanse your skin by combining these ingredients - honey, milk, rosewater/rosepetals and turmeric. Add a dash of olive oil and yes, it feels wonderful.

3. Almond oil body baths are a must-have! You will smell delicious all day. This summer, skip all those body lotions & moisturizers! You will love the way almond oil pampers your skin all day!

4. Use a mixture of almond oil and olive oil for your fe…

How to travel with family and create the coziest memories ever!

I know I haven't been blogging as often as I wanted to at the start of this year but so many things are happening in my life, like travel. For a working mom like me, the last time I traveled with my family.....is like ages ago. I do travel but mostly on my own and given the kind of school and work schedules that we have to balance out, it usually doesn't happen that we take a break for summer holidays as a family. Let me confess that it's pretty rare, which is why 2018 has been amazing for me. I got to travel with my family....yay!
Okay, so back to earth with a big bang, shall we?  
First, we headed to Gangtok, in Sikkim, via Siliguri in West Bengal. We had a fabulous time. My love for travel got a real boost, just as it used to in my childhood days, when my parents used to take us to different places during our summer vacations.
For me, the joys of travel have nothing to do with seeing new places, as it does with the fun-filled conversations we have with ourselves and the pe…

Book Review: Nan Umrigar's Sounds of Silence, A Bridge Across Two Worlds

The year 1978 was a glorious one for Karl Umrigar – a young man who won many prestigious horse races, including the Indian 2000 Guineas and the Indian Oakes. Finally, Karl Umrigar fulfilled his dream – every jockey’s dream– to win the Indian Derby. His name remains in the Indian Derby scroll of honour. 
But just at exactly the moment Karl won, he fell from the horse.  A fall that finally saw the country mourn for him when the headlines of the Indian Express read, “The King is Dead.” Karl Umrigar, the young champion and loved by many, was laid to rest on May 3, 1979.
Karl Umrigar’s Death: Bridge between Two Worlds You can imagine what Karl’s death did to his family, particularly his mother – Nan Umrigar. She says, “Nothing could have prepared us for the darkness that descended upon us – nothing!
While her family tried to pull on with daily routine, Nan Umrigar found herself in such a state of agony and trauma that she couldn’t resume a normal life. She couldn’t let go of her son.
She heard…

Five ways to take charge of your anger

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses.” ― William Arthur Ward
Every day, the newspaper headlines are full of scary stories of people killing each other over trivial things - mostly these incidents happen when individuals lose their temper and turn violent. In traffic jams across Noida in the evenings, people don't hesitate to walk out and hit each other.  At workplaces, colleagues lose their temper and say things that they regret later. During holidays with loved ones, small things set us off and we say things that damage relationships forever. No one stops anyone. Everyone likes a big, bad fight. It's great to vent. After all, what's the big deal about getting angry? After all, if you cannot express what pisses you off, how can you call yourself human? 


Does anger solve your problems? You know the answer!

If anger solved all the problems in the world, this world would have been a perfect place centur…

Does Maha Mrityunjaya mantra work?

Many people ask me this question, ''Does Maha Mrityunjaya mantra work?''. Mantras always work but the problem is that we are often not open to believing this.  The query about whether the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra works comes in different forms, sometimes by email, in the comments section or in person. Most people are curious, some are interested but few are committed to sincerely want the answer.



I am just an ordinary seeker on the spiritual path but my experiences have taught me valuable lessons and I am sharing this with you so that it helps your spiritual progress.
From what I have learned from my grandmother, who was a devout Shiva Bhakt throughout her life, the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is a powerful mantra that has ancient sounds which provides an aura of protection to those who chant it with faith regularly and it triggers powerful energies to remove sufferings and diseases. This is why Hindus believe that the one who chants the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra will be blesse…

How reading books impacts your child's brain

Did you know that reading books impact your child's brain? My father introduced me to the world of books when I was a child. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to read to their children daily, right from birth!

When my son turned two years old, I used to take him every week to the British Library, put him in the children's section where kids of all ages were reading books and just watched over him. 





The impact is what I want to talk about. Spending every Saturday at the British Library perked up his curiosity about books. When he saw other children immersed in picture books and so on, he would wait for them to put down those books, crawl over and try to turn the pages, which wasn't easy because, well, you know, toddlers don't find that kind of focus and balance. But a memorable beginning was made and this was our weekly routine for many years. Gradually, we began reading out books together. This turned out to our bonding time too.

Recently, I read the view…