Kerala Churches : Hubs of Sexual Crimes against Women

The world over, churches are under the scanner for sexual abuse against women and children, and India is no exception. The Vatican, central authority for Roman Catholic Churches, is fully aware of the prevalence of such abuse but has hardly taken any concrete measures to both stop the abuse as well as punish the culprits.

In India, it is very easy for authority-wielding Christian priests to get away with sexual abuse due to their proximity to politicians as well as a friendly media, which lets such monsters off the hook in the name of secularism. The case of rapist Bishop Franco Mulakkal has brought to the fore the kind of abuse that has been going on for decades in the churches. The church instead of standing by the victims, has actually taken the side of the accused and has pressurised nun Sister Lucy (one of the most vocal supporters of the nun who was raped multiple times by Bishop Franco) to change her stance.

Sister Lucy’s Tell all autobiography

In a shocking revelation Sister Lucy has highlighted how she has been subjected to sexual abuse and molestations on several occasions, that too by those who are supposed to be men of God. In her autobiography “Karthavinte Nammathil” (In the Name of God), she has brought to the fore the sexual abuses and torture she and other sisters like her have been subjected to and the lack of support from higher church authorities. She has stated that everybody is aware of the prevalence of abuse but they are mum about it. To add insult to injury, Sister Lucy was expelled from Franciscan Clarist Congregation this August. She has also said that attempts have been made to malign her image.

Sister Lucy – Ordeals of Nuns

In an absurd move, instead of punishing the guilty and assuring justice to victims, Kerala Church authorities are actually targeting Nuns who have been speaking up against sexual predators and punishing them for voicing their concerns. Sister Lucy is not alone but several other nuns who stood up for the rights of the abused nun have been at the receiving end of the Church’s wrath. Another Nun, Sister Lissy Vadakkel, is also being ostracised for testifying against the Bishop. Where threats and coercion seem to fail, the church has taken the route of bribery. The church attempted to buy the silence of Sister Anupama by offering a ‘settlement’.

We have merely touched the tip of the iceberg. Most of the crimes are often brushed under the carpet by Church authorities and a spurt in heinous crimes such as rapes in Churches hasn’t escaped the notice of the Supreme Court either. The revelations and subsequent attempts to silence the nuns raise several questions about the management of churches and the safety of women who are a part of it. The enthusiasm of the authorities to protect rapist Bishop Franco Mulakkal and instead malign the nuns points towards a deep malaise and the rot needs to be stemmed. The authorities protecting the rapist Bishop are actually guilty of abetting the crime. Strict action needs to be taken to send a stern message that abuse of women would not be tolerated.

(Ref.: ‘Hindu Post’ of 5th December)

The revelations and attempts to silence the nuns raise questions about the management of churches and the safety of women who are a part of it !