As the country witnesses the #MeToo movement where women in large numbers are coming out and narrating incidents of sexual harassment which they have faced, the Kerala nuns who had come out in support of their rape survivor sister who was raped by a Bishop are still fighting a lone battle. Instead of support they are facing threats and abuses. An independent MLA from Poonjar, Kerala, PC George has referred to the nun who accused the Jalandhar based Bishop Franco Mulakkal of raping her 13 times as a ‘prostitute’ and even went on to raise questions on her character.
For more details: Kerala MLA calls rape survivor a ‘prostitute’
Now, Changanassery-based Catholic Federation of India is planning to start a protest demanding the removal of nuns who have launched protest against the rape accused Bishop Franco Mullakkal. The federation has alleged that the nuns have been illegally staying at the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuravilangad.
Catholic Federation of India President P P Joseph told The News Minute, “If the Save Our Sisters (SOS) begins the second phase protest against the Catholic church, we will launch our protest to oust the nuns from the convent.” He also alleged that nuns have the support of those who are working against the Catholic Church.
So far, neither the Church nor any other influential Christian organizations have taken any concrete steps to investigate the rampant problem of sexual abuse in Church.
On the other hand, rape accused Bishop Franco Mullakkal enjoys political support and the support of the Church. A nun who took part in the protest against rape accused Bishop at Kochi went on to allege that the Bishop is relying on the church and his personal contacts to save himself from the allegations levied by the nun. Sister Anupama said,“We have been knocking on the doors of the church and the government. There is nobody to help us in our cause,’’ she went on to add, “The bishop has political clout in Kerala as well as Punjab. He is using money to influence everyone.”
After a long struggle and protest of nuns, media pressure, the police finally arrested the Bishop and subsequently the rape accused Bishop resigned also.
Sister Anupama told India Today, “We are happy now as the accused has been arrested and will face prosecution. We were forced to stage protests when all other efforts to get justice for our fellow sister failed. We were pained by the turn of events after she [Kerala nun] lodged complaints against the bishop.”
However, raped accused Bishop still enjoys solidarity and support among vast audience. Bishop tried his level best to avoid the arrest. He used his political clout to defame the nuns. He also used the Church authorities to bribe and lure the nun and her family to withdraw their complaint against him. According to Swarjaya report, the nun was presented with the offer of 10 acres land and a new convent. The report further states that the Nun’s brother has alleged that her sister was offered Rs. Five crore to take back the case.
For more details: Church attempts to bribe a nun who had filed a rape case against the bishop
But, the nuns rejected the offer and continued with their struggle and finally succeeded to throw the Bishop behind the bar. However, the nuns are facing the backlash from the Christian fanatics, they are targeting the nuns in one way or the other. But the nuns have shown amazing iron will and their struggle is still going on.
The backlash is also illustrative of the fact why more women are not coming forward who have been victims of abuse by the clergy. And this also demonstrates one of the flaw of the #Metoo moment where perpetrators are judged based on ideological inclinations, faith and other parameters.
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