An Indian Nun in her mid forties from Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate,was brutally attacked, molested and raped in Raipur capital of Chattisgarth state in India on Saturday 22nd June 2015. She was found semi clad, unconscious and hands tied in a medical center run by Christian Missionaries near Pandri locality in the state of Chattisgarh.
Sister Annie John, the nun’s superior revealed that the victim was wakened by the sound of cupboards being opened and the victim asked if they were looking for money. Sister Annie further reports that the victims mentioned the culprits said “We need money, but something else also,” The attackers forced the victim to swallow tablet before they raped her. The victim is in acute trauma and pain. (Source : ucanews.com reporters, Delhi, 22nd June 2015)
Two months earlier, in March 2015, a 74 -year old nun was raped by six men at a local convent school in Ranaghat, West Bengal after they entered the premises to rob the building. The rape came after a series of incidents, including thefts, at Delhi churches that put church leaders in India on alert about religious violence.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, the General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) states “Rape, sexual assault, abuse and attack on women, children from minority communities is increasing in alarming rate in India. Such attacks are heinous crimes. We request the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi to consider this phenomenon seriously and intervene to ensure the safety of citizens, particularly minority communities. We urge our Prime Minister to protect religious freedom and ensure safety of women in our country.”
According to Ms. Moumita Biswas, the Executive Secretary of All India Council of Christian Women (AICCW), “Rape is being used as a weapon of expressing hatred and religious intolerance. Recurring phenomenon of targeting nuns and Christian missionaries is nothing but a deliberate attempt to inflict humiliation on minority community. ”
NCCI and AICCW urges the Chief Minister of Chattisgarh State, Mr Raman Singh and Governor Balram Das Tandon to investigate this matter and take firm and immediate action against those who are involved in the crime.
NCCI invites member Churches to pray and to express their faith in action by engaging in advocacy to stop the culture of rape and attacks on women in our country.
Statistics reveals that in India, a woman is raped every twenty two minutes. Rape within marriage is not considered as crime in many communities in India. Rev Dr Saramma Varghese President of All India Council of Christian Women states that “Rape and sexual violence have become pandemic in our country. We need to cure this disease and heal wounded communities. In this context it is the sacred duty of Indian Churches to break the silence and conscientize communities’ demand for justice, and strategize to purge society of such evils.”
According to Indira Jaisingh, National Additional Solicitor General, “There’s a bias that operates in the mind of decision makers — stereotyping women, blaming the victim, trying to find out if she invited the rape.” There is also family pressure to keep quiet about the crime. Some activists estimate that only 10 percent of rapes are actually reported in India .
NCCI and AICCW, in this traumatic context, give a clarion call to puncture and eradicate the Culture of Rape. They urge
- The government of India to ensure security and safety of women and intervene and take action to stop the culture of sexual violence and rape to be used as instrument hatred .
- The government of India, through its partnership with Non Governmental Organizations , Government run organizations and Faith based organizations, to engage in educating and conscientizing communities to eradicate the culture of rape, sexual assault and violence on women and children.
- Implementation of Gender Justice Education and include sex education as part of education curriculum, making it mandatory in schools and colleges. Such awareness and education should be imparted to children from very early age.
- Provision of trauma counseling to survivors of rape
- Taking firm action against perpetrators who commit the heinous crime of rape and sexual assault.
- Strengthening anti-rape laws articulating zero tolerance to rape
- Making police stations and legal system women and victim friendly.
- Conscientizing communities to break the culture of silence in the context of rape and sexual assault.
- Engaging in advocacy and implementing gender justice polices in institutions and organizations
The All India Council of Christian Women in its effort to eradicate the pandemic of rape , sexual assault, and hatred has launched the campaign 365 Days Zero tolerance to Gender Based Violence, works in partnership with Churches, faith based organizations and institutions to engage in advocacy, awareness and training to eradicate sexual violence,pedophilia, rape .
Moumita Biswas- Executive Secretary All India Council of Christian Women