Abolish practice of confessions in churches: NCW

Abolish practice of confessions in churches: NCW

Rekha Sharma meeting the head bishop, Yuhanon MAR Chrysostomos of Malankara Syrian Orthodox church at Baithini Ashram at Thiruvalla. File photo. Source: Twitter/RekhaSharma

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has recommended for “abolition” of the practice of 'confession' in the churches to prevent cases of sexual assault on women.

The commission has recommended for it in a report to the Union government in the backdrop of a rape case against four priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who have been accused of sexually exploiting a married woman belonging to their church.

The NCW had constituted an inquiry committee to look into alleged sexual assaults against women in churches. The three-member panel was headed by acting chairperson of the commission Rekha Sharma.

“The practice of 'confession' should be abolished as it can lead into blackmailing women,” the NCW team recommended in its report.

The inquiry committee's report along with recommendations have been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi as well as to Kerala and Punjab Police chiefs.

“The priests pressure women into telling their secrets and we have one such case in front of us, there must be many more such cases and what we have right now is just a tip of the iceberg," acting chairperson of the NCW said.

The CPM disapproved the commission's suggestion to the government, saying it should stick to its mandate.

“They should confine to their mandate. Let them deal with the complaints they receive, investigate it and take action. Their mandate is to address issues related to gender justice, gender violence. It is not their business to comment or recommend something like what character a religion should have,” CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters, reacting to the commision's recommendation

The commission has also recommended that a central agency should conduct “a proper investigation” into the “increasing incidents of rape and sexual assault in the churches of Kerala.”

In the backdrop of a recent case of rape lodged by a nun in Kerala against Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese Franco Mulakkal, the commission has also recommended that both Kerala and Punjab police “must act swiftly” on the FIRs and frame charges against “the accused persons.”

“The complainants need all help from the state government to restart their life, security of job, salary and perks,” the NCW inquiry committee stressed in its report.

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