The Kerala Chief Minister’s answer to the question clearly shows that the f-word is still terribly misunderstood.

Are you a feminist Kerala CM asked No gender should dominate he repliedRima Kallingal/ Facebook (left); CM Pinarayi Vijayan
news Television show Monday, January 08, 2018 - 16:05

“Are you a feminist?” actor Rima Kallingal asked Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the first episode of his weekly talk show, Naam Munottu. And the Kerala Chief Minister’s answer to the question clearly shows that the f-word is still terribly misunderstood.

Replying to Rima’s question, Pinarayi Vijayan said, "In our land, there was a time when the concept of 'na stree swathandryam arhathi' (a woman doesn’t deserve freedom) existed. Here, the question is not on which side to take, but that men and women must be able to live in this land as brothers and sisters.”

“A woman's rights should be given to her,” he further said. “A woman must get all the right she has. And men have their own rights too. This is what our society requires today,” he added.  

To this, Rima prodded, "Are these two different things?"

But the CM seemingly misunderstood feminism to mean ‘female dominance’. "As far as the experience of our society is concerned, these rights are two different things. How I see this is, that both men and women have their own rights and neither should men dominate women, nor should women dominate men. They should have equal rights. This is what our society requires," he said.

“The women in our state, owing to high literacy rates, have considerable awareness about their rights. However, there are still many issues inhibiting them from truly being empowered and the government will take strict action against these issues,” he added.

Pinarayi Vijayan made these statements during the discussion on women’s safety, which was this episode’s focus.

The Chief Minister took questions from various panelists, and also audience members during the show.

Rima, who was part of the panel, also applauded the government’s attitude and efforts in the investigation of the recent actor molestation case. “It has boosted the morale of the women in the state and given them the confidence to speak up about various issues. This situation is conducive for women to get their problems addressed by the concerned officials,” said the actor.

Replying to a question raised by retired IAS officer Lida Jacob on low conviction rates, the CM said, “The law is independent of the government. It will take its own course, and the investigation, another course. If the investigating officers tamper with the case, then they too will have to face the law – that is the government’s stance.”

On women’s security, the CM also said that the government wants to introduce the Pink Police Patrol, the government’s initiative to enhance safety of women in the state. Currently the Patrol is present in eight districts.

The half-hour show, aired on various channels, will see the CM answering questions posed by a group of subject experts and members of the general public on developmental issues in the state. The talk show is an attempt by the government to engage with the citizens as well as highlight the progress achieved in the previous terms.