Sexual harassment and women molestation is something which needs to be condemned strongly and severe action should be taken against anyone who indulges in such acts, irrespective of the religion of caste he belongs. But unfortunately, in India, the outrage against women molestation depends on the religion she belongs. Media decides whether to raise the issue depending on their political convenience which is shameful.
Recently, the incidents of women harassment have become very common in various religious institutes where most of the incidents go unreported. Either because the political parties and media is biased towards the appeasement of certain sections in the community or due to pressure, they never want to highlight the dark side of Missionaries and Churches and Madrasa.
There were many reports last month on how religious leaders in Madrasa were involved in rape and molestation of small girls. But hardly any news channels gave coverage and indirectly protected the culprits. Similarly, Churches have also become a place where the nuns are easy targets. An article in the First Post reported the pathetic conditions of nuns in Churches who are unable to speak openly but are suffering within. An incident occurred in one of the very famous Churches where a nun was molested by seminarian secretly videotaping her having a bath and threatened her of publishing the video if she did not co-operate.
When the lady complained this to one of the senior staff in the Church, a group of progressive Catholic religious in India dissuaded the victim from going to court and assured her that they would get her justice from church authorities. When they complained to the seminarian’s bishop, he shrugged the matter very casually and sent the person to Rome to continue his theological studies.
Last year in November, women from Kozhikode had filed a complaint against parish priest in Nadakkavu St Mary’s English Church for molesting and sexually abusing her. The women had approached the Parish to pray for her daughter on her birthday, which was when the parish took advantage of the situation and made a move on her. The women had complained about the incident to the bishop at the Malabar Diocese of the Church of South India, showing proof of his mails and pictures. But the Bishop never took the issue seriously and rudely said there were plenty of other churches in Kerala which she could chose to pray. It was only after she contacted the police through Anweshi, a women’s counseling centre that a case was registered and the priest was charged under Section 509 (First Post).
Three years ago, there was another incident where a lady had complained against Walayar priest in Catholic Church in Kovai, Tamil Nadu accusing him of murdering her 17-year-old daughter. The investigation revealed that the Church authorities very well knew about the sexual assault she faced and how she was murdered, but had remained quiet and never helped the victim’s mother. Instead, they had sent a complete report on the murder to Rome which was again a very fishy development. Later 5 Catholic priests were arrested for deliberately hiding facts and misleading information. This news was reported in Indian Express in 2016.
The Global Sisters Report had submitted a detailed survey as to how most of the nuns in the Church and Missionaries face sexual abuse on a daily basis but will have to remain silent because of his incapability to go against the powerful establishment of Church which has protection from Vatican and Indian political parties.
The report studied by Global Sister said “The abuses take place in parishes, schools and social service centers where nuns work as subordinates to priests. Some retreat masters and priest counselors, who privately treat sisters with emotional and psychological problems, also abuse nuns,” During spiritual retreats, for instance, a nun meets with a clergy adviser in a closed room for guidance and discernment, creating an opportunity for sex abuse.”
About 75 priests and nuns, who are involved in struggles for justice and peace, attended the four-day meeting at Kottayam, a Christian stronghold in the southern Indian state of Kerala, to address the theme “Reinventing Religious Life in the Context of India Today.” In the end, they said they were forced to write the letter as their analysis of current challenges to religious life revealed issues that needed urgent attention by church leaders.
The letter cites “an increasing use of the Sacraments by the clerics to punish the faithful, especially religious women,” and demanded an immediate end to such practices. In these cases, a priest in conflict with a nun would deny her communion, hearing her confession or saying Mass at her convent. These acts of obvious shunning create scandal in the parish (Global Sisters Report).
The study also said most of the Parish consider women as cheap labour and bring them for work promising them of better life. But ultimately they are abused and sexually assaulted and threatened from going to the police. So, most of the nuns and workers accept that they have to face the punishment each day just to earn a bit of money.
But the sad part is, 90% people do not know the real face of Missionaries and Churches. They have been misusing their power and position to exploit women. Just because they are favourable to some pseudo secular parties and have the backing of Vatican, no media or journalist dare to speak against them.
The Kathua case was taken Nation by storm and all the media channel were sitting on the issue for nearly 15-20 days. Why?? Because it was said that the attacker was a Hindu and the victim was a Muslim. But imagine if the attacker would have been a Muslim and the Victim a Hindu, just like in Nirbaya case where the most brutal rapist pardoned using pseudo secular lobby. Similarly, the Church is backed from the top most leaders in Congress who have direct connection with the Vatican. The Vatican takes a decision in every matter in the Church and India has no say. This was quite visible when the Archbishop of Delhi wrote a letter to all Churches and Christian indirectly asking them to support Congress and throw BJP out of power.
So, the Church is no safe place for women and especially nuns who are facing massive harassment in every way without being able to speak about it!