NCW slams church for glorifying accused Bishop in Kerala nun rape case

NewsBharati    03-Dec-2018


Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of National Commission for Women

Kochi, Dec 3: The Catholic Church came under attack this time from the national women’s body for allegedly shielding the accused bishop in Kerala nun rape case. The National Commission for Women (NCW) levelled accusation against the Catholic Church for ‘glorifying’ the accused bishop of Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullakal in a Kerala nun rape case.

The NCW also accused the Church of not protecting the interest of the NCW, Rekha Sharama, nun who became victim of the Bishop’s carnal desires since 2014.

Instead, the NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma alleged, that the church was in the process of “glorifying” the bishop arrested for molesting the nun.

Talking to reporters here Sharma lambasted 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 necessary for protecting them from harassment and safeguarding their modesty.

"In churches, we don't have any internal complaint committees," she told the reporters.

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

"There was nobody she (victimised 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.

 

Former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullakal accused in the nun rape case
 
Mulakkal, who was Bishop of Jalandhar diocese, was arrested in September for allegedly raping the nun at Kuravilangadu in Kottayam district.

In her complaint to the Kottayam police in June, the nun had alleged that Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions. However, Mulakkal has denied the charges. He was later granted conditional bail in the case. He had given up his pastoral duties of Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus and transferred his administrative powers to Bishop Agnelo Gracious.

"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 organisations. But in Christianity... in Churches... many nuns are there," Sharma said.

"They (the Church) are glorifying the accused Bishop," Sharma said.

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

Sharma said she has got a representation from an organisation working for nuns in which they have alleged that the church was not ready to provide security for the victimised 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," she said.

The NCW chairperson also criticised Kerala MLA P C George for not appearing before the commission in a case of allegedly using abusive language against the nun.

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.

Asked whether the Commission had powers to arrest him, Sharma said, "We have the powers to arrest him. NCW is above MLA or MP."

Sharma also flayed the ruling CPI (M) for not forwarding a woman member's sexual harassment complaint against its MLA P K Sasi to the police.

 

"They have reprimanded him, suspended him for six months but they have not reported the matter to the police. Complaint should have gone to the police," she said. The CPI(M) has said Sasi was suspended from the party's primary membership for six months after it was found that he had conversed with the woman "in a manner not befitting a party leader."

The NCW chairperson also criticised Kerala MLA P C George for not appearing before the commission in a case of allegedly using abusive language against the nun.

The Commission had issued a notice to George asking him to appear before it but he sent his lawyer citing health reasons, a Times of India report said.

“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 send an explanation through his lawyer. I want him to come. We want him to say sorry..,” Sharma said.

Asked whether the Commission had powers to arrest him, Sharma said, “we have the powers to arrest him. NCW is above MLA or MP.”

Sharma also flayed the ruling CPI(M) for not forwarding a woman member’s sexual harassment complaint against its MLA P K Sasi to the police.

“They have reprimanded him, suspended him for six months but they have not reported the matter to the police. Complaint should have gone to the police,” she said.

The CPI(M) has said Sasi was suspended from the party’s primary membership for six months after it was found that he had conversed with the woman “in a manner not befitting a party leader.” (Additional inputs from agencies)