Catholic Bishops in India Make Effort to Prevent Sexual Harassment

Published 15 September 2017  |  
AP
A silent inter-faith protest atainst rhe rape of an elderly nun in eastern India's West Bengal state in 2015.

India's Catholic bishops on Sept. 11 announced the release of a document that establishes guidelines to prevent and deal with sexual harassment, especially of women, in Christian institutions.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) will be publishing 'CBCI Guidelines to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Workplace' on Sept. 14 at a press conference at the CBCI Centre in New Delhi.

"The Church, while wanting to ensure the protection and respect for women at ‎workplace and without in any way underestimating the seriousness of sexual ‎harassment of women at workplace, wants to address all forms of sexual ‎harassment at work place," said the Council for Women, CBCI, in a statement.

The document "is gender inclusive and has been formulated ‎to create a safe, healthy and loving environment that enables its employees to ‎work without the fear of prejudice, bias and sexual harassment and creates a ‎mechanism for prevention of any form of harassment." It provides "‎the process of handling cases of sexual harassment, if and when they occur and ‎also tries to safeguard people from false allegations," said the statement signed by Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas, chairperson of CBCI and Sr Talisha Nadukudiyil SD, secretary of CBCI.

Protection for women from sexual harassment at their place of workplace is ensured under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

However, this year's study carried out by the Indian National Bar Association revealed that demands for sexual favors, inappropriate touches and coarse comments still continue to trouble workplaces in the country, with Delhi being the most adverse city for women. The population of the study was 6,047 people with 78 per cent were female and 22 per cent male. The results showed 38 per cent women or girls had faced sexual harassment at workplace; and about 69 per cent had avoided from filing a complaint due to embarrassment, fear and lack of confidence.

Lately, according to Vatican Radio, some incidents of sexual harassment and molestation in Christian organizations in India have ended in arrests.

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