OPINION: Sexual abuse: It is time for the church in India to embrace the #MeToo movement

AFP via Scroll.in

July 19, 2018

By Joseph D’Souza

We must worry less about our public image and more about getting justice to women who have been sexually exploited by church leaders in Kerala and elsewhere.

When the #MeToo movement first started gaining steam in the United States in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal last year, everybody was asking the same question: who would be next? It did not take long to get an answer.

American politicians, powerful media executives and famous news anchors came toppling down after brave women told their stories of abuse and, for once, people believed and heard them. Finally, the movement reached the church, and pastors, even seminary presidents, were held accountable, for their actions and for failing to protect those under their care.

India, now living its own #MeToo moment, is seeing a similar pattern unfold. The wave of reckoning that started with Bollywood’s notorious casting couch and swept over legislators has now reached the Indian church.

Authorities in Kerala are investigating three high-profile cases of sexual assault involving the clergy. In perhaps the most prominent of them, a woman has accused four priests of blackmailing her into sexual exploitation. The Kerala High Court has refused anticipatory bail to the accused; they could be arrested any day now.

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