PresidentIn a significant development, the Neelangarai Women’s Police in Tamil Nadu have registered a case against the son and daughter-in-law of DMK MLA E Karunanidhi, Marlina, for charges of harassment and domestic abuse. The case stems from a video that surfaced featuring a young girl, belonging to the Scheduled Caste community, accusing the DMK family of harassment, including physical assault with a ladle, resulting in burn injuries.
The complainant, identified as Rekha, worked as domestic help in the residence of Pallavaram DMK MLA E Karunanithi. The allegations against the ruling party MLA’s family come at a time when the DMK touts itself as a champion of social justice and claims to work towards a casteless society.
In the widely circulated video on the X platform, Rekha disclosed that she was compelled to work for the family of Anto Madhivanan, who turned out to be the son of DMK MLA E Karunanidhi. She alleged that, within two days of joining, she expressed her inability to manage the workload, but her employers insisted she continue and resorted to physical abuse, even confiscating her phone. Rekha claimed that when she expressed her desire to leave and speak to her mother, the employers blackmailed her, threatening harm to her family. They allegedly coerced her to sign an agreement with an agent, citing their influential connections and power as an MLA’s family.
Rekha detailed the deceptive promises made by her employers, saying, “They promised me, ‘You work for 6 months, we will relieve you immediately, another girl will come to replace you.'” However, the promises proved false, and Rekha endured seven months of relentless abuse. She recounted instances of being slapped on the face for minor mistakes and narrated a horrific incident where her employers burnt her arms with a hair straightener as punishment for failing to cook on time.
Throughout her ordeal, Rekha claimed that she was denied medical assistance, and her wounds were left untreated. She resorted to applying home remedies and self-administering bandages to cope with the injuries. She also highlighted instances of excessive workload, non-payment of salary, and degrading treatment.
In the video interview, Rekha spoke about the emotional manipulation and blackmail she faced, revealing how her employers threatened to harm her family if she did not comply with their demands. She expressed the psychological torment she endured, fearing for her family’s safety.
The shocking revelations have raised concerns about the abuse of power and exploitation within the family of a prominent political figure. The incident has brought attention to the vulnerability of domestic workers, particularly those from marginalised communities, and the urgent need for legal safeguards to protect their rights.
The victim, who suffered relentless physical abuse, narrated incidents of being beaten with a ladle, scratched with a knife, and subjected to burns, shedding light on the appalling conditions she endured.
The young girl revealed that one morning, she was instructed to complete all household chores promptly. However, unable to wake up early, she could only manage to prepare breakfast and lunch. Failing to meet the expectations, she faced severe consequences as her employers accused her of not accompanying them for their work outside. The punishment for this perceived negligence lasted the entire day, with beatings continuing until 11 in the night. The girl was reportedly beaten with a ladle on her head and mouth, resulting in bleeding. Despite pleading to be allowed to go home and falling at her employer’s feet, she was not granted reprieve.
Recalling the traumatic incident, the victim stated, “She had hit me on my chest several times, and I could never speak of it. They scratched my neck with a knife, and they would light a newspaper and burn my mouth with it.” Shockingly, the employers refused to provide any medical treatment, forcing the girl to take care of her injuries herself. Even after enduring such brutal abuse, she was compelled to continue with her daily chores.
திமுக கருணாநிதி எம்எ.ல்.ஏ. வீட்டில் வேலை செய்த பெண் கொடுக்கும் பகீர்…. வாக்குமூலம் – 😥😡😨🔥 pic.twitter.com/8jDkSSuj2u
— Gowri Sankar D (@GowriSankarD_) January 18, 2024
The victim, subjected to physical and emotional torment, detailed incidents of brutal assaults, including having her hair forcibly cut, being disrobed, and enduring sadistic punishments.
The girl revealed that her appearance was drastically altered due to the severe beatings, and the tormentors, allegedly the MLA’s son Anto Mathivanan and his wife Marlina Anto, callously cut her hair. Despite the critical condition she found herself in, she was denied medical attention, and the tormentors allegedly provided only ice cubes for treating her injuries.
In a shocking revelation, the victim recounted being threatened and blackmailed by her abusers. She claimed that she was disrobed and forcibly sent out, with her tormentors asserting that no one would come to her aid even if she were sent out naked. The perpetrators allegedly exploited their political connections, asserting that the victim had no protection as they resided in an MLA’s house.
The extent of the cruelty extended to forcing the victim to drink a concoction of chili powder and water, causing intense burning sensations. The girl, in a state of agony, would plead for water, but her pleas reportedly went unanswered. Additionally, she was coerced into performing the chores of other staff members, further exacerbating her physical and mental suffering.
When questioned about her salary, the victim disclosed that, despite promises of Rs. 16,000 per month, she had not received a single rupee for the seven months of labour. The perpetrators allegedly demanded rapid completion of tasks, subjected her to relentless scrutiny, and meted out physical abuse for perceived shortcomings.
The shocking revelations have prompted widespread condemnation, with BJP state president Annamalai and others calling for stringent action against Anto Mathivanan and Marlina Anto under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Annamalai, expressing his outrage, alleged that the girl had been burned with cigarette butts and received a meagre compensation of Rs 5000 instead of the agreed-upon amount.
சென்னை பல்லாவரம் தொகுதி சட்டமன்ற உறுப்பினர் கருணாநிதி அவர்களின் மகன் வீட்டில் வேலை செய்த, 18 வயது பட்டியல் சமூக இளம்பெண், சட்டமன்ற உறுப்பினர் கருணாநிதியின் மகன் மற்றும் மருமகளால் கடுமையாகத் தாக்கப்பட்டும், சிகரெட்டால் சூடு வைத்தும் துன்புறுத்தப்பட்டுள்ளார் என்ற செய்தி மிகுந்த…
— K.Annamalai (மோடியின் குடும்பம்) (@annamalai_k) January 18, 2024
The shocking case of alleged abuse and cruelty against a Dalit girl in the residence of DMK MLA E Karunanidhi’s son, Anto Mathivanan, has ignited public outrage. Critics argue that the media’s response would have been different had the incident occurred in a BJP-ruled state, with accusations of selective reporting and minimal coverage from the TN (DMK) media.
DMK MLA Karunanidhi, distancing himself from the controversy, claimed ignorance about the events transpiring in his son’s house. He stated that his son got married seven years ago and has been living separately. However, this assertion has not quelled the growing demand for accountability.
Puthiya Bharatham chief V Shivaji has called for swift action, demanding a compensation of Rs. 10 crore for the victim from the MLA’s funds. He further urged the government to ensure the safety of women working in various sectors and recommended compiling a comprehensive list for monitoring. Shivaji emphasized the importance of ordering payments through banks to prevent fraud and gathering work contract details through SP offices.
The opposition, led by Shivaji, has called for stringent action against Anto Mathivanan and his wife Merlin for the alleged atrocities committed against the victim. The demand for justice in this distressing case has intensified discussions about the safety and protection of vulnerable individuals, particularly those working in domestic settings.
As the public awaits a thorough investigation and accountability, the incident underscores the urgent need for systemic changes to safeguard the rights and dignity of domestic workers, with activists and human rights advocates urging comprehensive measures to prevent such abuses in the future.