MC Josephine, Kerala’s women commission chairperson who resigned last week for snapping at a woman facing domestic violence, on Monday landed in another controversy after former Olympian Mayookha Johny alleged Josephine tried to shield a man accused of raping her friend.
Mayookha Johny addressed a news briefing in north Kerala’s Thrissur to seek justice for a friend who, she said, was raped in 2016 and tried to move on without complaining to the police. She finally filed a complaint in March this year when the accused continued to blackmail her, threatening to release photographs and video clips that he had shot.
The police appeared hesitant to act on the complaint, said Johny, India’s first female athlete to cross the 14-metre barrier in the triple jump. She has represented the country at the Asian Games and the Olympics continues to hold the current Indian national record for triple jump for female athletes and was awarded Kerala’s highest sporting event, the GV Raja Awards for 2019.
When we approached Josephine, she promised us strong action. But later, for reasons best known to her, she started talking in favour of the accused,” she said, alleging that Josephine played a key role in averting his arrest.
MC Josephine, a central committee member of Kerala’s ruling party CPI (M), did not respond to repeated requests for her version. Josephine ran into trouble last week after her “then you suffer” remark to a domestic violence survivor during a live television show.
Johny said she was forced to call a press conference for her friend after they appeared to have run out of options. “My friend has married two years ago but he still harasses her and threatens to release her photographs. I was also threatened for taking up her cause,” she said. Her friend sat by her side at the briefing.
The accused is an influential man. Now the police are asking for evidence and blame us for not approaching them soon after the crime. We feel bad when he roams around freely and continues to threaten the victim,” she said.
Asked about Johny’s complaints, a senior Thrissur police officer said they are still investigating the case. “We are collecting evidence,” said the officer, insisting that they were yet to tie what he described as “some loose ends in the woman’s statement”. He also pointed that it was difficult to collect evidence in such cases after a long gap between the alleged crime and the offence. At the briefing, Johny said the police should seize his phone that was used to record the crime and other devices. “They will get enough evidence once they seize his phone and track his call records,” said Mayookha Johny, reasoning that if he was threatening to release her photos and videos, he must have kept them in a device.