Single mother in Kerala blocked from home by neighbours for returning late from work

Seetha Lakshmi took to Facebook to say that she was prevented from entering the apartment by her neighbours, because she got back home from work late at night.
Seetha Lakshmi
Seetha Lakshmi
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A woman cinema professional in Kerala has accused her neighbours of moral policing and shaming her for working late. Seetha Lakshmi was forced to go to the police recently because she was blocked from entering her apartment when she returned from work late at night. In a Facebook post, the single mother detailed her experience with her neighbours, and how she is being forced to vacate her apartment.

Seetha Lakshmi is a Kochi-based single mother who works as a marketing and promotions professional for Malayalam movies. She lives in a rented flat in Panampally Nagar, a prime spot in Kochi, along with her seven-year-old daughter, her mother and her brother. The latest incident that made her call the police and later come out with a post on social media happened on April 12. Seetha Lakshmi was back from work from Kaladi at 12.25 am. "The security guard was not ready to open the gate saying that it was a direction from the association to close the main gate by 10 pm and to close Block gates by 10.30 pm. I had to stand on the road for an hour. I called up my mother and she came and I could reach the main gate. But they didn't allow me to enter," Seetha Lakshi says in her Facebook post.

She then called up the Thevara police who reached the spot and helped her to enter the flat. Later, she informed the Deputy Commissioner of Police Kochi Aiswarya Dongre about the issue. The police on Monday called up both the parties and settled the issue, the post says.

"The past few days have been extremely tough for me as a woman,” Seetha wrote in her Facebook post. “This is not an issue faced solely by me, but many women like me. I was able to start working again only recently, to make ends meet after a struggling time, because of COVID. There are people around us who can't tolerate a divorcee woman stepping out for work and managing things of her own. The truth is that those who even enjoy a high status in society, are not reluctant to tarnish a woman's image who has to work late in the night. They have even said that my brother is not my sibling," the post reads.

Seetha Lakshmi in the post also alleges that there has been pressure from the residents association office bearers on her landlord to make her family vacate the flat. "They (the association people) have created trouble both for me and for my landlord. This has affected the health of my aged mother and the mind of my daughter. But he (landlord) has been cooperative," the post reads.

"This has been the attitude of the fellow residents since November 2020, when I first moved here. I have put out the post for those women who can't speak out openly on issues like this," Seetha tells TNM. "I haven't filed a police complaint as the police have spoken to them and settled the issue," she says. 

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