Thiruvananthapuram: Kamarunissa Anwar, a leader of a Kerala political party the Muslim League, was on stage at a public gathering when she was informed this weekend that she could not make a speech as she is a woman.
It was 10 pm, and the 60-year-old president of the Muslim League's women's wing was on the dais with several men leaders of the party when its state secretary MC Mayin Haji told Ms Anwar, "it's not in the League's tradition for women to speak to men."
An audio recording of the conversation was leaked by unknown people.
But Mr Haji does not deny he said that. "Women do not address public gatherings. Women are given much more respect than men, the reason why we don't encourage them to be part of processions or late night events," he told NDTV.
Women, Mr Haji, said "were welcome to speak to a specific audience like a delegation, but must not address public gatherings."
To prove that he was not against women making speeches but only at public gatherings, he furnished a picture of another prominent woman leader of the party addressing a delegation, with Mr Haji on stage.
"I don't have any complaints. People have the freedom to speak whatever they want to," Kamarunissa Anwar told NDTV. She has been working for the political party for the last 20 years and said, "she did feel sad".
Out of the 140 MLAs in Kerala, only eight are women. The Opposition led by Congress has no women legislators in the current Assembly. Muslim League is an important ally of the Congress in Kerala and has 18 MLAs in the Assembly, but not one woman.