In a major victory for sexual harassment survivor, at last the staff of prominent Christian educational staff has got the justice. Tamil Nadu Commission for Women, in a suo motu decision, has ordered the prestigious Loyala College to pay compensation (with interest and without delay) of Rs 64.30lakhs to former staff forthwith.
Organiser weekly on August 8 carried a detailed report on the alleged sexual harassment and termination of Nancy (name changed), a senior member of faculty. She accused former principal and director of the Alumni Association Xavier Alhponse of sexual harassment and embezzlement. She has filed a case in Madras High Court, which has been pending since 2016. Nancy was appointed as an administrator in 2010. She was terminated after she complained about sexual harassment by father Xavier Alphonse. She brought to the notice of the management about Xavier’s embezzlement of Rs one crore from the corpus of the association and channelizing it to his personal family trust. She also accused him of giving scholarships to ineligible students. The college management instead of taking action against Xavier has clipped his powers.
Irked by her actions, Xavier started harassing her sexually and abusing her after that. She even talked how she was subject to harassment at ‘every possible manner’ and his behavior of unbecoming of a revered priest. The management tried to mollify her instead taking corrective action against Xavier. The management, according to her, attempted to bury the case under the carpet. She was asked to go on leave for some time. In the meantime, he was transferred to some other college. When she demanded job, Loyola management expressed its inability to take her on rolls again. Xavier filed a false case against Nancy and her son, who is an alumni of the college, to the police. Ending Clergy Abuse (EIA), an international association of activists and survivors of clergy abuse from 20 countries and 6 continents, extended its full support to AICF in their fight for Justice to Nancy.
In a suo motu decision, Tamil Nadu State Commission for women has ordered Loyala College to forthwith pay a compensation of Rs. 64.30 lakhs to survivor Nancy. It covers remuneration for 81 months, damages for mental agony, unkind words of sexual harassment and for filing a false complaint against the victim. The commission said “we have found the victim has had a very good track record. There is no reason for terminating her service. Loyola College has abruptly stopped her from reporting work, deliberately.
Loyola College clarified that they didn’t get the copy of order and informed the Commission that the matter is being Sub-Judice in the Madras High Court and why they should not proceed on this. It said they would challenge the order. However the Chairperson Dr Kannaegi Packianathan , IAS (retd) maintains that it is for the college to look into this issue, render justice and for the Rector to take action. “We are an independent body and have the rights to probe. This issue was brought before us by the victim in November this year, who is a senior citizen and who had been without job and an income for several years. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which is the body that controls the working of Loyola College, should understand that exposing a crime cannot be treated like committing a crime. If it is treated that way, then you’re being ruled by criminals”.
“For the kind of trauma and physical and sexual abuse she has been submitted to, she has to be adequately compensated, expeditiously. Nancy has been subjected to intense suffering which must be alleviated immediately. The commission hereby orders to pay back wages and compensation with interest for harassment mentally and sexually," TN state woman commission ordered.
“During our enquiry and visits to the college, we found that the victim’s original certificates were not found in the college premises and that the victims had not been given a relieving order when she was verbally asked to stay away from work. It did not, as per rule, inform the Directorate of College Education when terminating an employee. We did not find any letter that had been sent,” added the commission. Donations that Loyola received from alumni should be accounted for in a separate Alumni funds account and the association has to be duly registered under the Societies Act. The current Rector of Loyola College Francs P Xavier , on December 15 expressed his inability to respond to summons because of his old age and the risk to exposure to Corona. Hence the Commission visited the institution in person to conduct the probe.
Loyola College said she was appointed on a contractual basis and that she was relieved from her service. She was terminated from the job on September 20 this year. The college maintains that Nancy has not preferred any complaint to the Internal Complaints Committee or any other authority regarding the sexual harassment charges.
The survivor claims that the college and its then Rector did not take any action towards her financial irregularities
charges. She had send an e-mail to the college management in September 2013 and she was transferred internally and posted as the Rector’s secretary.
Bala Gauthaman of Vedic Science Research Centre told the author that there is an organized crimes cartel by priests. They have the support and blessings of the church administration. If any woman dares to expose any financial irregularities or make complaints of sexual harassments, they are threatened, forced to withdraw complaints. They are made to suffer further by torture. But the accused or against whom complaints were made, are given promotions, given legal support to fight the case. The church lobby has money and can influence people in government, police and in judiciary. They are well connected with political parties in turn for their votes and other favors like giving seats to their nominees.
In Kerala, several nuns of Missionaries of Jesus congregation had accused former Bishop Franco Mulakkal of sexually assaulting them. Those who complained were sent out of the communion. Mulakkal is being protected even today by the Church administration. In Vellore, a woman worked in a Vocational Bible School was intimidated and harassed to withdraw the compliant. She could not get justice.
In another case, Fr. Thomas M Kottoor and sister Sephy were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 19 year old novice sister Abhaya. In the protracted legal case, Abhaya family got justice after 28 years. Kottoor was promoted three times in order of clergy hierarchy. Now he was given twine life sentence. Jesuits are symbol male chauvinism”. He said “ in all cases, who prefer complaints or whistle blowers were victimizes and perpetrators were protected from being probed or sentenced while maintaining image of the institution intact. The clergies have the license to loot, harass, rape and do whatever they want. It has become order of the day. Church properties including women, nuns are only for the enjoyment of Priests. If they are men, they could be used for anti-social activities.
Christianity is nothing but stand for institutionalized hooliganism. Priesthood in Christianity now give a blanket license or permission whatever they want to do. Hapless victims are poor common people. Constitution gives to rights to have mutt head, clergies, and Mullas. But now it has become a social evil in society. Churches collect money from the public and spend it other than it was intended. Churches siphon off money received from members and public. It raises a doubt whether these are shell companies or NGOs for Loyola to channelize funds. Richester in his book “History of Mission” says, “ Missionaries have got neither call nor mandate to teach history and geography. Evangelism is our central goal”.
The clergy system should be banned to protect hapless people and to avoid looting of money. The government should order a thorough probe to look into financial irregularities by clergies. It should cover all priests who have been at the helm all these years in Loyola. The probe should cover financial irregularities, societies or NGOs run by them to see any siphoning of funds, illegal activities, conversions, creating disturbances leading to law and order problems including anti- national activities. In Tamil Nadu, it came to light that churches were behind Sterlite and Jallikattu and other protests. The probe should cover all educational institutions run by Christians including Loyola.
All government funding, aids, UGC grants should be withdrawn forthwith.