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No Church has right to put CCTV cameras in women washroom

Nothing can be more shocking and disturbing than getting to know that protectors of your faith can act in a manner that questions logic, sensibilities and integrity.

Imagine my shock when I learned through media reports that the St Michael’s Church Mahim Mumbai had put CCTV cameras in the Women washroom.

I was even more horrified when I received a SMS and a Whatsapp message from two Christian friends from Mumbai and Pune asking me to boycott Times of India and Mumbai Mirror for publishing this story.

The line in the SMS and Whatsapp message that really annoyed me stated, “Majority of the readers of this English newspapers are Catholics, hence your one step can bring a strong message to these journalist that they should not use the power of the media to publish such wrong news.” It further goes on the state ‘Boycott Mumbai Mirror and Times of India all true Christians’.

The incident was brought to light by the women parishioners of the St Michael’s Church and Association of Concerned Catholic (AOCC). Many women in the parish have reacted angrily to the installation of the CCTV cameras and the failure of the parish to inform the women parishioners.

Karen C Dzouza of the AOCC question the action of the parish priests, asking, “Why are our priests being more ridiculous by the day. Just what were they expecting to capture on cameras, women with their pants down or sarees up? She we went out to express her disgust to the media saying, “Are the priest missing out on something?

Father Simon Borges, parish priest of St Michael’s Church stated that the CCTV cameras were installed sometime back to prevent theft. Women leave bags outside, near the basin, before entering the toilet. We installed the camera to protect the ladies.”

While the justification borders on absurdity; lets for a moment by that justification. The most pertinent question is whether the Church informed the women in the parish that CCTV cameras were installed in the washroom. The answer to that question is no. That has what has angered the women parishioners.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai has been sent a stern letter by the women parishioners and AOCC asking what is the intent behind recording women in the washroom.

While the Parish Priest has agreed to remove the CCTV cameras after the backlash, the question which still needs to be answered is whether under the law (since this does constitute an invasion of privacy) will the women parishioners take the issue to its logical legal end.

As far as those Christians who stand up to defend the Church and send silly messages like boycott media for publishing the truth, my earnest message to you is that – a wrong act is a wrong act; it can and must never be covered by wool. Imagine if a tape of your female relative with her pants down or sarees up were to be found circulating on the internet because someone whom the priests could not control decided to have some fun and put it up.

If we close our eyes to the truth because of our religious faith we will never be able to curb a menace like pedophile priests which continues to be a curse of the Catholic Church.

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