Women’s commission slams Church for not protecting ‘abused’ nun

Kochi, Dec. 2, 2018: The National Commission for Women says the Catholic Church is not protecting the interest of a nun, who had accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar of sexually abusing her.

Until “now the Church has not come clean” in the nun rape case, commission chairperson Rekha Sharma told reporters on December 1. Instead, the Church is in the process of “glorifying” the bishop arrested for raping her, she added.

Sharma also threatened to arrest P C George, a member of the Kerala legislative assembly, for not appearing before the commission in a case of allegedly using abusive language against the nun.

“We have the powers to arrest him. NCW is above MLA or MP,” she asserted when asked whether the commission had powers to arrest the legislator.

Sharma slammed the Church for not implementing its directive to constitute internal complaint committees in their institutions where many nuns are serving, saying such a mechanism was a must for protecting them from harassment.

“In churches we don’t have any internal complaint committees,” she told reporters here.

Sharma said nuns who came up against the Jalandhar bishop could never get justice from the Church because of the absence of such a mechanism in their institutions.

“There was nobody she (victimized nun) could go and complain. We have also written to the church, urging them to constitute internal complaint committees where women can complain,” she said.

She alleged that “till now the church has not come clean” in the nun rape case.

The nun, in her complaint to the Kottayam police in June, had alleged that Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions.

However, Bishop Mulakkal has denied the charges. He was later granted conditional bail in the case.

He had given up his pastoral duties of Jalandhar diocese and Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Agnelo Gracias as the apostolic administrator.,

“We should have internal complaint committees in all the religious places–especially in churches where many nuns are serving. Not many women are serving in the temples or other religious organizations. But in Christianity… in churches… many nuns are there,” Sharma said.

“They (the Church) are glorifying the accused bishop,” Sharma said.

Sharma alleged the prelate was getting security from the Church and his picture was displayed in its calendar.

Sharma said she has got a representation from an organization working for nuns in which they have alleged that the church was not ready to provide security for the victimized nun.

They have alleged that the Church has urged the police to shift the victim to a shelter home.

“That is how these religious places are working, they are totally against women,” Sharma added.

The NCW chairperson also criticized legislator George for his failure to appear before the commission

The commission had issued a notice to George asking him to appear before it but he sent his lawyer citing health reasons.

“I am not satisfied with the lawyer’s reply. So we are writing to the Speaker of the Kerala Assembly. Speaker is also liable to take action against him (MLA),” she said.

“He never said sorry to us. He just sent an explanation through his lawyer. I want him to come. We want him to say sorry..,” Sharma said.

(Source: The Times of India)

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