The Catholic community’s top decision-making body in India has released a set of guidelines to prevent sexual assault and also included a code of conduct which is to be signed by all employees of all institutions under its control. Allegedly, the embarrassment that the Catholic church had to go through over the allegations of sexual assault involving some of its clergymen compelled them to take this step. The set of rules which has been released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) are to be observed in every “department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, institution, office branch or unit which is established, owned or controlled, wholly or partially financed by funds provided by the Catholic Church, ” Indian Express reported.
CBCI issued the guidelines in a 30-page handbook where the measures have been listed titled, “CBCI Guidelines to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Workplace”. Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas of Gurgaon who is the chairperson of the CBCI council for women said that the guidelines are to be followed at any workplace which employs more than 10 people and is run or owned by Catholics. Indian Express quoted Barnabas saying, “There are hundreds of congregations, social service centres and groups as well as thousands of firms run by individuals. This would be applicable to all.”
The document which has been issued by the Catholic Church states that all the institutions or firms a “harmonious” environment at workplace which is free of intimidation, hostility, offence or any sort of abuse or harassment from the authority. It also specifies that there is zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment at workplace. In January 2017, Pope Francis had called for the enforcement of zero tolerance towards sexual crimes in church. Urging all the Bishops in a letter addressed to them, Pope had asked them to take strict actions to contain “the sin that shamed the church” referring to the sexual abuse of children by priests.