The St Michael’s Church in Mahim, Mumbai has become shrouded in controversy after it was reported that a CCTV camera has been installed in its women’s toilet. As a result, the parishioners of that church sent a letter to Cardinal Oswald Gracias the archbishop of Mumbai in order to ask as to what the officials of their church were trying to achieve by installing it.
Karen C D’Souza the vice-president of Association of Concerned Catholics, in the letter also reportedly questioned as to “why were the priests of St Michael’s parish being more ridiculous by the day” and also urged the priests to wake up and be sensitive to the ladies. The letter further asks as to what were they expecting to capture on the camera. Furthermore it stated that the Church can also close the washroom itself as the women cannot use it under the present conditions.
Other women parishioners too raised concerns about the installations by stating that they felt insecure and didn’t know as to who was monitoring the footage. An advocate named Joseph Sodder claimed that the installation amounted to outraging the modesty of women and claimed that they intended to lodge a complaint against the church and seize its footage.
Incidentally the church has sought to explain away the installation by claiming that they were done to ensure the safety of the women and to prevent thefts. According to Father Simon Borges the parish priest of the church, the cameras were installed sometime back to prevent thefts as women leave their bags outside near the basin before entering the toilet.
This isn’t the only time such controversies have happened in this country. Famously Union Minister Smriti Irani in 2015 had found a CCTV camera aimed at a women’s trial room in a retail store in Goa after which police had detained staff members and consequently sealed the store. The Madras High Court too in the same year had instructed a Chennai based company to immediately remove a CCTV camera installed in the men’s washroom. This installation was done in 2013 when the company decided to install CCTV cameras literally everywhere in the factory to check if the staff was working or passing time.