India

Concern about sexual abuse in the Church

22nd March, 2017.

To
Baselios Cardinal Cleemis,
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Major Archbishop of Trivandrum,
Archbishop’s House, Pattom, Trivandrum – 695 004. Kerala.

Subject: Concern about sexual abuse in the Church

Dear Cardinal Cleemis,

We,  the members of the Indian Women Theologians Forum (IWTF),  Satyashodhak, Streevani, Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace (FORUM), Conference of Religious India (CRI) Women’s Section, and other individuals who are deeply concerned about the integrity and mission of the Indian Church write in the context of the recent scandal involving the parish priest in Kerala who sexually abused a minor girl leading to her pregnancy.

1. Need to recognise issues specific to the ecclesial context
The episode highlights an issue that is unique to the ecclesial context, one which women have been struggling to bring to the attention of the bishops for the past 4 years, namely, that the violation of the fiduciary trust inherent in the priest-parishioner relationship has an additional dimension of damage, because we are taught to believe that the priest is 'another Christ'. When such a man is a sexual offender, faith in the God he represents is shaken to the core. To the physical, mental and psychology trauma is added spiritual trauma. Not just the victim, but the entire family, the faith community and all those involved in the fight for justice are affected, and all need spiritual healing.

2. Need to respect and comply with State laws
Thankfully the State has laws that recognise sexual abuse for what it is, a crime that must be penalised. Similarly, the law regarding the abuse of minors is very clear, and shielding an abuser is now also punishable by the law. Unfortunately in the present instance the Church  seems to have failed on both these counts.   It took an outside agency to blow the whistle on the crimes that had occurred.

One of the purported reasons why the Church is reluctant to expose its criminal priests is the fear that such admissions will be exploited politically by vested interests. It is our contention that when the clandestine management of these cases comes to light it does far more harm, for delayed corrective action festers the wound. If on the other hand the laws of the land are followed it  will  give the signal that the Church  leadership is composed of law abiding citizens, and that the Church as an institution supports justice for the victim.

3. Need for structures to address sexual abuse when it occurs in the Church
The current case will be tried in a court of law, and sadly by the media, but we all know that it is not the first case and will  not be the last. To prevent repeat bungling and criminal activity, not to speak of untold damage to the reputation of the Church and the faith of its people, what we need urgently are structures in each diocese to handle these cases as soon as they occur. The government has already laid down the law for forming Internal  Committees  in  the  workplace,  to  receive and deal with  cases of  sexual harassment of women in organizations that have more than 10 employees.  These committees are required to have women as chairpersons and at least 50% women members including a woman from outside the organization,  working with  women’s issues. The names of the Committee members as well as the objectives of the Committee are required to be displayed prominently in the organization so that employees are aware of whom they can approach. This also facilitates accountability of the employer. The CBCI could insist on forming similar committees in every diocese with the mandate to  conduct enquiries when sexual abuse happens, and the authority  to  make and implement recommendations.

4. Need for a Policy to prohibit, prevent and redress sexual abuse in the Church What we also need urgently is a CBCI Policy to prohibit, prevent and address sexual abuse in the Church. A few of the women among the undersigned have been working with the CBCI Council for Women to bring out such a Policy for the past few years. It has met with many delays. We understand from Bishop Jacob mar Barnabas, the Chair of the Council, however, that the CBCI Standing Committee last year approved a Policy, and we are awaiting its release.      It  is our hope that such a Policy will  not only demonstrate the bishops’ concern for vulnerable victims of abuse, but also restore the bishops credibility with regard to the zero tolerance of sexual violence to women that they have promised in their Gender Policy.

5. Need for greater attention to the choice of candidates for the priesthood and seminary formation
Since the instances of sexual abuse by clergy are being increasingly reported in the Indian Church, we think that greater care needs to be taken when choosing candidates for the priesthood and more attention given to seminary training and on-going clerical formation on questions relating to sexuality and celibate commitment. More importantly  however, there must be conscientization with  regard to patriarchal attitudes that promote condescension and even aggression towards those considered “inferior”, and clericalism that is perceived to place the ordained outside civil law, and permits lack of accountability and transparency. At its root, sexual abuse is ultimately not about sexuality or celibacy,  but about the gross misuse of the disproportionate power assigned to priests. The improper handling of the case of a seminarian caught in voyeurism in 2014,  a case that was much discussed  within  church circles and was finally given an ethnic colour by the local authority in an attempt to protect the accused, points to the need for urgent measures to be taken in this regard.

6. Need to address issues pertaining to clergy-woman religious relationships
The Kottiyoor incident draws attention to another disturbing issue in the Church. We are deeply concerned that some women religious have been charge sheeted under POCSO for allegedly covering up the crime to protect the offending priest. It is a pointer to the many unresolved issues concerning the clergy-women religious relationship in the Indian Church, which need to be addressed and resolved in ways that safeguard the integrity and wellbeing of the Church.

We are happy to note that Pope Francis has taken serious cognisance of sexual abuse by clergy and repeatedly condemned it.  Two years ago while  speaking at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia to a gathering of hundreds of bishops from around the world, he pledged that “Clergy and bishops will  be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.” In June 2016 he laid out legal procedures to include negligence or omission in handling abuse allegations as one of the "grave reasons" that canon law allows for dismissal of a bishop.1  Once again, in a strongly worded letter to Bishops on 28 December.  2016,  he exhorts them to  renew their  commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place. In his words: ‘Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated. In this area, let us adhere, clearly and faithfully, to “zero tolerance.”’2

Our letter is written in the same spirit, to express concern for hurting victims of sexual abuse in the Church, and to suggest measures to prevent such abuse, and when it does occur, to address it in accordance with existing laws and with sensitivity to victims, so that our Church remains a visible sign of justice, compassion and healing.

We remain sincerely in Christ,  who stands as a Champion  of abused and exploited women, and St. Joseph, whose feast we celebrated this month, who protected his young wife from the violence of patriarchal power.

Yours sincerely,
•          Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala (Mumbai) – Co-ordinator, Indian Women Theologians Forum (IWTF) & Satyashodhak,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
•          Advocate Julie George (Pune) – Director, Streevani, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
•           Jacob Peenikaparambil CMI (Indore) National Convener, Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace (FORUM) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
•          Manju Kulapuram SCSC (Hyderabad) National Secretary, Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace (FORUM) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
•          Rita Pinto RSCJ, Vice President, National CRI,  & President, Women's Section,
National CRI - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/francis-gives-vatican-authority-initiate-removal- bishops-negligent-sexual-abuse
2  Letter of the Holy Father to Bishops on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, 28 December, 2016.

Signatories:
1.         Abraham Kurian IPS (Kerala) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
2.         Agnes Almeida DHM (Ahmadabad) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
3.         Alice Erani SJC (Gadag) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
4.         Dr. Aloma Lobo (Bangalore) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
5.         Amala SND (Gumla) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
6.         Ammini V.K. SJT (Bhopal) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
7.         Anand Mathew IMS (Varanasi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
8.         Ancy CJ (Bongaigoan) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
9.         Anna SJC (Jharkhand) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
10.       Annie Jaise CMC (Waynad) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
11.       Anto Joseph SJ (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
12.       A. Puthumana SJ (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
13.       Abraham Kurian IPS (Kerala) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
14.       Advocate Audrey D’Mello - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
15.       Augustine P. SJ (Torangatti) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
16.       A.X.J. Bosco SJ (Secunderabad) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
17.       Benjamin HM (Sundargarh) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
18.       Brinelle Dsouza (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
19.       Prof. Caesar D'Mello (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
20.       Cedric Prakash SJ - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
21.       Celia UMI (Chitrdurga) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
22.       Celine Paramundayil MMS (New York) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
23.       Clara CSJ (Itarsi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
24.       Clara Alappatt HCM (Bangalore) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
25.       Cyprian Fernandez (Kerala) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
26.       Devassy M.K. SG (Guwahati) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
27.       Dorothy Fernandes PBVM (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
28.       Elsa Muttathu PBVM (Chennai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
29.       Prof. Errol DLima SJ (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
30.       Prof. Evelyn Monteiro - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
31.       Prof. Felix Wilfred - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
32.       Advocate Flavia Agnes - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
33.       Francoise Bosteels SDS- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
34.       Dr. George Pattery SJ (Delhi) – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
35.       Gracy Sunder OLP - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
36.       Hazel D'Lima DHM (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
37.       Helen Saldanha SSpS, former Secretary, CBCI Women’s Commission -This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
38.       Jacinta D'Souza DHM - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
39.       Jacob SG (Ranchi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
40.       Prof. Jacob Parappally MSFS This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
41.       Jeanne Devos ICM (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
42.       Joe Mathew SJ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
43.       Joel Urumpil SCN (Chatra) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
44.       Dr. John Dayal (Delhi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
45.       Prof. John T. K. SJ - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
46.       Josantony Joseph (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
47.       Jose D. Maliekal SDB, (Vishagapattanam)- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
48.       Joseph C.M (Bangalore) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
49.       Jose Kavi (Delhi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
50.       Prof.  Joseph M.T. SVD (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
51.       Dr. Joseph Neetilal IMS (Neeti Bhai), (Varanasi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
52.       Judy Siqueira (Pune) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
53.       Justine Gitanjali Senapati SJA (New York) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
54.       Jyothi Fernandes (Karnataka) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
55.       Jyoti SMMI (Chhapra) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
56.       Kiran CJ (Buxur) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
57.       Dr. Kochurani Abraham (Kerala) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
58.       Prof. Kuncheria Pathil CMI - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
59.       Kurien Kunnumpuram SJ (Kerala)- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
60.       Latika SJB (Kannur) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
61.       Lilly Joseph DHM (Cuddalore) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
62.       Dr. Lissy Joseph SCCG (Hyderabad) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
63.       Marcia D'Cunha (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
64.       Dr. Margaret Devadoss - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
65.       Dr. Margaret Gonsalves (Vasai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
66.       Mary James MCJ (Ahmadabad) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
67.       Marianne Puthoor SCN (Gumla) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
68.       Dr. Matthew Coutinho SDB (Jerusalem) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
69.       Mathew Pannathanath SG (Banagalore) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
70.       Meera RGS (Bangalore) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
71.       Mercy ICM (Trichy) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
72.       Mercy Francis MMS (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
73.       Dr. Metti Amirtham, SCC (Trichy) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
74.       Muriel Rego (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
75.       Fr. Myron Pereira SJ (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
76.       Nancy  a. Vaz FDCC (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
77.       Nicholas Barla SVD (Sundargarh) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
78.       Prof. Noel Sheth, S.J. (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
79.       Noella de Souza MCJ (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
80.       Olga Netto (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
81.       Dr. Pauline Chakkalakal, DSP (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
82.       Philip Manthara SJ (Patna) – mobile: 9430510537
83.       Philo Thomas RA (Pune) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
84.       Philomena D'Souza FMA (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
85.       Poonam CJ (Bxur) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
86.       Prabha SND (Bihar) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
87.       Prashant Olalekar SJ (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
88.       Ralph Fernandes (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
89.       Ramila DHM (Bareilly) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
90.       Ranjini SCSC (Darjeeling) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
91.       Raynah Braganza Passanha (Pune) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
92.       Reethamma CCV (Delhi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
93.       Prof. Rekha Chennattu RA - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
94.       Roselyn Karakattu SCN - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
95.       Rosina SSpS (Madhya Pradesh) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
96.       Roy Lazar A. - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
97.       Rudi Heredia SJ (Delhi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
98.       Sabina Pathrose RGS (Nagpur) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
99.       Sadhana SRA (Balia) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
100.     Sebastian Kizhakkekutt (Pala) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
101.     Prof. Shalini Mulackal PBVM (Delhi), President, Indian Theological Association (ITA) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
102.     Shanti Picardo FC (Siliguri) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
103.     Shanti Fernandes RSCJ (Malwan) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
104.     Sherly K MMS (Kerala) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
105.     Sophie RSCJ (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
106.     Subhash Anand (Udaipir) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
107.     Sujita Kallupura SND (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
108.     Suren Abreu (Mumbai) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
109.     Sunita CJ (Meja) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
110.     Teresa Dorjee SCSC (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
111.     Tessy Paul MSI (Nalgonda) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
112.     Theramma MMS (Changanassery) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
113.     Thresiamma Mathew OMMI This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
114.     Advocate Tresa Paul SCSC  (New Delhi) -, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
115.     Urmila ICM (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
116.     Valsa MMS (Teni) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
117.     Valerie Siqueira (Pune) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
118.     Prof. Varghese Manimala Ofm Cap (Kottayam) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
119.     Varghese Theckanath SG (MSI) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
120.     Veena SHM (Bhadohi) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
121.     Veena Jacob RA (Patna) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
122.     Virginia Saldanha (Mumbai) Former Secretary, CBCI Women’s Commission & FABC Laity Commission - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Copies to:

1.    Giambattista Diquattro, Apostolic Nuncio to India.
2.    Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President, Conference of Catholic Bishops of India
(CCBI).
3.   George Cardinal Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly.
4.    Telesphore Cardinal P. Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi.
5.   Bishop Andrews Thazhath, CBCI Vice-President-I.
6.   Bishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, CBCI Vice-President-II.
7.   Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, CBCI Secretary General.
8.   Bishop George Antonysamy, CCBI Vice President.
9.   Bishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto, CCBI Secretary General.
10. Bishop Jacob mar Barnabas, Chairperson, CBCI Council for Women.
11. Talisha Nadukudiyil SD, Secretary, CBCI Council for Women

Are religions above Fundamental Rights?


by Astrid Lobo Gajiwala

Mumbai: On November 29, more than 50 Muslim women and social activists entered the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali shrine which houses the tomb of the 14th century saint Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari.

The entry came after a ruling of the Supreme Court that questioned the ban imposed by the trustees of the dargah five years ago.

The event touches a sensitive spot – the situation of women in religion. While the second class status of women in society is openly acknowledged and addressed the discrimination against women in religions is usually excused and justified with claims of it being divinely ordained.

Thus in the case of the Haji Ali dargah the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission when initially approached by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) in 2013, refused to intervene on the ground that this was a religious matter. That is why the Supreme Court ruling is a victory not just for the BMMA who fought the case or Indian Muslim women, but for all women across the globe who are fighting the male appropriation of religion.

Christian women in India take steps to address clerical abuse cases

Participants of the National Consultation on "Impact of Religion and Culture on Women's Empowerment – An Indian Perspective" at Hyderabad, southern India. (Provided photo)After efforts to persuade the Catholic church in India to deal with sexual abuse of women by clergy, and upset over the church's slow progress, a group of Christian women, mostly Catholics, announced steps for addressing the issue on their own.

"We should move outside the church to seek answers to abuse cases. We should treat this problem as a crime and take recourse to the law," said Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, a lay woman theologian.

Gajiwala, who heads the women's collective Satyashodak (meaning "seekers of truth"), made these remarks at a recent national seminar that studied the impact of religion and culture on the empowerment of women from an Indian perspective.

Read more

“Impact of Religion and Culture on Women’s Empowerment - An Indian Perspective”

Statement from the National Consultation at Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad,

23rd – 26th September, 2016.

Pack nothing. 
We bring only our determination to serve and our willingness to be free
. We will not hesitate to leave our old ways behind: we fear, silence and submission.
Only surrender is to the need of the time: to do justice and walk humbly with God.
Though we set out in the dark.
We are confident that God will be present with us in fire and in the cloud to encourage us.
(
Alla Renee Bozarth)

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Varghese TheckanathDown the ages men have been perceived to be the sole recipients and transmitters of divine messages. Women on the other hand, have been socialized by patriarchal religious structures and practices to passively accept religious teachings as interpreted by men. These andocentric and patriarchal interpretations have defined and shaped the social and cultural contexts of Indian women resulting in their disempowerment and second class status. Recognizing the influence of religion and culture on Indian women’s lives, Streevani took the initiative to organize a National Consultation on the theme “Impact of Religion and Culture on Women’s Empowerment – An Indian Perspective” from 23rd to 26th September, 2016 at Hyderabad.  The Montfort Social Institute hosted the meeting and were also co-organizers together with the Indian Christian Women’s Movement, The Indian Women Theologians Forum, and Satyashodak. 50 people, religious women and men, lay women and one diocesan priest were present.