Adding her voice to the political chorus against Kerala Minister MM Mani for his deprecating comments against the women’s movement, Pembilai Orumai, actor Manju Warrier said on Facebook that she stood with the group, “in the struggle to regain self-respect.”
On Sunday, Mani had accused the women of Pembilai Orumai of “indecent” and “anti-social activities” during their struggle in Idukki against Kannan-Devan Hills Plantations for better wages and working conditions for the 4000-odd women employees. His comments sparked an instant furore, with leader Gomathi Augustine asking if the Minister thought they were whores.
In her post, Manju asked what kind of a message Mani was sending to society through his statements. “A section of men hold the belief that they can say or do anything against women. MM Mani’s statement gives off a foul stench,” she wrote.
Manju pointed to the widespread support that Pembilai Orumai’s fight in Munnar had received, and called Mani’s statement an unacceptable attempt at character assassination. “Pembilai Orumai’s fight in Munnar had attracted nation-wide attention. A lot of people had supported their movement. But through the statement, the Minister has insulted all the women who have reclaimed their self-respect and are trying to stand on their own feet,” she wrote.
The actor added that she was particular distressed that such a statement should have come from a CPI (M) leader. “It is surprising that a Minister, who is representing an organisation that has been with the people during all their mass struggles, can make such a statement.”
She added that it is the responsibility of Ministers to speak for the cause of women’s rights, not to denigrate it in such fashion. “The Minister has the responsibility to talk louder to society about the dignity of women. Instead of a mere apology from his part, what society expects is an assurance from Mani that such statements will not be repeated,” she wrote.
“I am with Pembilai Orumai in the struggle to regain self-respect,” Manju declared proudly.