• When a nun fights a case of voyeurism

    Sr. Manju Kulapuram, a nun from Hyderabad has taken to various forms digital and social media to get the justice that she is failing to receive from the church. Around two years ago, one of her fellow nuns was secretly seen and videotaped taking a bath by a male seminarian. In an attempt to resolve the issue within the church, when she reached the seminarian’s bishop with the complaint, he simply sent the accused to Rome to complete his studies.

    Sr. Manju, who is the national secretary of the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace, an advocacy group for religious women, has 30 years of experience working with the grassroots in multiple villages across India.

    Also read: Understanding Sexual Violence: 3 years, 50 scholars, 5 countries

    The victim, whose name remains undisclosed did not get any justice and consequently left her faith. Talking to Global Sisters Report, a non-profit catholic reporter, Kulapuram said:

     Finally she was forced to leave the religious life disgusted. Poor treatment of Catholic religious women by male members of the church is a very serious problem in India. If it comes out, it will be like a tsunami.

    Here are a few more interesting facts that the report revealed:

    • There is a major research gap in the area of clergy abuse of catholic sisters;
    • While the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India did roll out a gender policy to mete out the inequality and abuse(that also won approval from the Vatican), the situation hasn’t changed much in reality;
    • In most cases, sisters don’t protest. “This was the one case where the sister stood her ground”, said Kulapuram.

    Even cases of religious abuse of women often go unaddressed, which a very sad truth of patriarchy. Catholic theologian Virginia Saldanha says:

     I came across several cases of abuse when I traveled India as the head of the bishops’ women’s commission. When I took up the matter with the provincials, they told me that they would deal with it in-house. But I found that ‘in-house’ meant punishing the sister and taking no action against the abuser.

    Also read: Stand up to abuse: Be a Superhero!

    My Take

    Such obstructionist tendencies need to be strongly condemned in public and the perpetrator be brought to justice. If a woman has to live in the fear of male sexuality, even when she is on her path to spiritual enlightenment, one cannot expect her to reach her goal ever. There is a pressing need for a strong shift in the way people representing the faith are looking at gender.

    Read more blogs by Sakshi Sirari here 

    Feature Image Credit: globalsistersreport.com