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Catholic Church bemoans call centre Bacchanalia

Indian 'dens of iniquity'

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The Catholic Church in India has decided the time has come to address the problem of call centre promiscuity which, as we previously reported, has pretty well reduced the local outsourcing industry to something resembling a scene from Bob Guccione's Caligula.

Back in June 2005, the India Times described the steamy case of 24-year-old "senior process associate" Mandakini Sandhu and squeeze Ashish Gupta.

It explained: "For many BPO [business process outsourcing] employees like Sandhu and Gupta, the office space is not just a professional domain. Instead, it symbolises one's personal space, thanks to long hours being spent in office. From making friends to cultivating relationships, BPO units are slowly becoming hubs where inter-personal bonding takes place. And it comes as little surprise that many also give vent to their sexual urges in the office space."

Sandhu admitted: "For us, the office is practically everything. Weird working hours means that most friendships happen usually within the office and in similar working set ups. And in such a situation, intimacy is a foregone conclusion."

Well, it hasn't got any better. According to a new set of shock revelations reported in The Age, "since many staff work night shifts, after which normal socialising is impossible, office friendships — with accompanying sexual liaisons — have blossomed".

Call centre worker Alkesh Dua elaborated: "Women come to work with condoms in their handbags. Everyone is doing it. You're together all night in this cool, hip atmosphere, and you end up getting intimate."

As a result of the "licentious lifestyles", abortions in Bangalore are up up 50 per cent in two years, while "so entrenched is [call centres'] reputation for dating, drinking and partying that many middle-class parents are now reluctant to let their daughters take up such jobs".

Enter Benny 16's clean-up squad, which is offering "week-long retreats in the hope of turning staff away from a life of sin". Bangalore's Archbishop Bernard Moras said: "We don't want to do moral policing, but we want to advise young people that being 'modern' doesn't mean losing their family traditions or moral values.

"We are responsible for these young people. We have to show them we care by giving them guidance and showing them the dangers of adultery and casual sex."

Which is fair enough, although we can't help but feel the Catholic Church might have a tricky time reconciling Bangalore's skyrocketing abortion rate with its stance on condoms, especially given that it will probably take more than a "week-long retreat" to wean sexually-charged call centre workers off their penchant for workplace rumpy-pumpy. ®

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