Kerala nun rape case: National Commission for Women says 'Church glorified Bishop'

File photo of Bishop Franco Mulakkal. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

PTI Kochi, Kerala, India Dec 02, 2018, 12.22 PM (IST)

The National Commission for Women Saturday accused the Catholic Church of not protecting the interest of a nun, who has alleged that Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal raped her in 2014.

The church was in the process of "glorifying" the Bishop arrested for raping her, NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma alleged.

She 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 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.

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 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. A 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." 

Story highlights

The National Commission for Women Saturday accused the Catholic Church of not protecting the interest of a nun, who has alleged that Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal raped her in 2014.