STATEMENT OF ICWM ON THE RELEASE OF GUIDELINES BY THE CBCI TO DEAL WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT THE WORKPLACE.

The Indian Christian Women’s Movement is grateful to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India for issuing guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace, including a code of conduct to be signed by employees in all institutions under its control.

We note with appreciation that the guidelines are to be implemented 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”.

We also note with joy that Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas of Gurgaon, chairperson of the CBCI Council for Women, said that apart from thousands of institutions under the Church, these guidelines should be followed by firms with more than 10 employees that are run or owned by Catholics, thus inspiring Catholic businesses to not only follow the law of the land but to also recognize that “sexual harassment violates the sacredness of the human person and is against the ethos of the Bible.”

We are happy to observe that the document specifies that all institutions and firms should create a “harmonious working environment free of intimidation, hostility, offence and any form of harassment and abuse of authority”, and “communicate the zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment at workplace.” It further exhorts them to: “Ensure only eligible, well reputed and morally upright persons are recruited and appointed as the staff of the institutions and they should be trained, supervised and supported at their work place which should promote genuine and mature human behaviour.” It also recommends training on gender sensitivity for those in authority.

Since the guidelines mandate every diocese and province to set up a complaints committee, and every institute or firm with more than 10 employees to constitute an internal complaints committee, it is up to us women to be vigilant and ensure this happens in our dioceses, institutions and Catholic run institutions and firms in our region.

We look forward to receiving cooperation from and pledge our support to the CBCI Council for Women in the implementation of the Guidelines in India.

The document is available at the website of the CBCI here: http://www.cbci.in/Newletter/Newletter915152215109.pdf