Thiruvananthapuram: National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma recommended on Thursday that the practice of ‘confession’ be abolished in churches as it can lead to blackmailing of women.
Sharma also said that a central agency also needs to do a proper investigation into the increasing incidents of rape and sexual assaults in churches of Kerala.
The recommendations come in the backdrop of a rape case against Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church's four priests, who have been accused of sexually exploiting a married woman belonging to their church.
The issue came to the fore after the victim's husband wrote to the church, alleging that the priests blackmailed and abused his wife, a school teacher.
"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," Sharma said.
The NCW chairperson had visited the 34-year-old complainant woman who accused the priests of rape and had also recorded the statement of a senior nun, who had accused Bishop Franco Mullackal of raping her on several occasions at a small town near Kottayam.
The crime branch is investigating the allegations against the four priests. Two priests were arrested and are out on bail. Two others had approached the Supreme Court for anticipatory bail. The SC has sought a report from Kerala government.
In the case of the nun, police said that she has alleged that the Bishop raped her in 2014 and there is not a lot of scientific evidence. They are recording the statements of several other nuns and no arrests have been made so far.
The NCW chairperson’s recommendation has not gone down well with the Congress as MLA Anil Akkara called it politically motivated. “This recommendation to stop confession cannot be accepted and this is politically motivated. She does not know the real idea behind confession and that is why she has made such a blanket recommendation," he said.
He added that the union government and Kerala minister KJ Alphonse should make their stand clear on this recommendation.