Nuns ordered out of convent, cancer hospital rapes, religion and misogyny

The 17 January edition of Note This — our round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

Four nuns who protested against rape-accused bishop Franco Mulakkal have been asked to leave their convent in Kerala by the Missionaries of Jesus congregation. Image is representative. Photo: czu_czu_PL/Pixabay

Four nuns who protested for the arrest of former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, who had been accused of rape by a nun, have been asked to leave their convent in Kuravilangad, Kerala. This development has been covered in the news media across India, and is being reported as an attempt by the congregation to “punish” the nuns for supporting their colleague.

The death and beheading of a teenage girl in Gaya, Bihar, continues to stay in the news, with the victim’s community alleging that the “honour killing” charges against her family are an attempt by the police to cover up her rape.

Editor’s pick

Much of the mainstream media in India lauded the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalise consensual gay sex last year. However, how does the media address non-consensual gay sex? In ‘When gender blinded the media to (an alleged) rape’, NewsTracker’s Simran Singh explores how the coverage of the 2012 Pinki Pramanik case revealed news biases about who can be a victim and who can be an offender.

Across India: news since Monday

Four out of the five nuns who spoke out against power priest Franco Mulakkal are being “forced out” of their convent “in an effort to isolate [them], and to break their collective strength”, reported NewsMinute. The nuns have been accused by the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation of going against church values. The nuns, however, have said that they will not leave and “will continue to stand with the survivor”, who still resides in the Kuravilangad convent. Another nun, who was also targeted by the church for speaking against Mulakkal, has said that this is a “disciplinary action” that is “intended to weaken the survivor”.

The mutilation and murder of a teenage girl in Gaya has led to protests, with allegations that the police subjected her family to custodial torture in order to make them confess to an “honour killing”. The girl’s community claim that the police is attempting to cover up a gang-rape, but the autopsy results show that the victim was not sexually assaulted, reported the Hindustan Times. Forensic investigators have also found blood stains at the girl’s house. The girl’s community have refused to “accept” the autopsy results and have asked for a CBI investigation.

Other cases that have received primarily regional coverage include the arrest of a nurse for allegedly sexually assaulting cancer patients at the B Borooah Cancer Institute in Guwahati, and the bludgeoning deaths of a woman and her three-year-old daughter by a man who reportedly raped the woman after she died.

Rape culture

In Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, a 28-year-old woman hanged herself because “she lost hope of getting justice” said her husband. The woman, who said she had been raped by two men, had also attempted to set herself on fire four months ago when the chief minister of UP did not meet her regarding the case.

A 35-year-old Canadian woman has alleged that she was molested in her room by a staff member of a five-star hotel in Mumbai. The Times of India quoted sources as saying that when the woman brought the matter to the attention of the hotel management, “she was not offered help and told to lodge a police complaint on her own”.

A professor at Jadavpur University has said he was just trying to have “fun” when he wrote on Facebook that a “virgin girl is like sealed bottle or sealed packet… Are you willing to buy a broken seal while purchasing a bottle of cold drink or a packet of biscuits?”. His comments sparked an outcry and he has been removed from his duties. The university has clarified that the decision to remove the professor was also due to the “testimonials of students” about his “misogynistic” behaviour in general.

The intersection of religion and misogyny has this week been explored in two in-depth pieces. Writing in the Hindu, Prakash Kamat explores how girls are forced to become “devadasis” (temple prostitutes) in Karnataka despite a law that forbids the practice. In Firstpost, Gita Aravamudan analyses how the nun rape case and the Sabarimala row reflect a “dichotomy” in Kerala’s society.

Assault of minors

In Surat, Gujarat, four boys — ranging in age from 10 to 15 — have been detained by the police for allegedly sexually assaulting a three-year-old girl. According to the police, the boys’ “inclination towards physical activity developed after watching porn videos”. The victim requires for her injuries, reported the Times of India.

In Kota, Rajasthan, a 70-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison for the repeated rape of his granddaughter. The child said the abuse had started several years ago but she was able to gather the courage to complain only when she was 14.

#MeToo

The National Commission for Women has said that up to 17 cases of sexual harassment have been filed by employees of All India Radio (AIR), with many of the complainants saying that they have been sidelined for speaking up. AIR director-general Fayyaz Sheheryar has said that most of the complaints are “baseless”, although Prasar Bharati (the public broadcasting agency under which AIR operates) chief executive Shashi Shekhar Vempati has said that “gender sensitisation workshops” will be conducted across the organisation.

The sexual misconduct allegations against Bollywood director Rajkumar Hirani have divided opinions in the film industry. While Hirani has been reportedly been “dropped” from a major blockbuster, his supporters are speaking up. Screenwriter Javed Akhtar has called him the “most decent” person in the industry, while producer Boney Kapoor has said “he can never do something like this”.

Voices

Haryana’s Jitendar Chattar became the subject of much lampooning in 2012 when he famously blamed the rate of rape on the consumption of chowmein and other fast food. Since then, he appears to have had a change of heart. In a Hindustan Times piece, he writes about his fight for justice for his wife, who is a gang-rape survivor, and his battle against “ Haryana’s vicious patriarchy and rape culture”.

Survivors of sexual assault have spoken up about their experiences during the course of a “dignity march” from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar. The march (which has received scant media coverage) aims at “ending the culture of shame and fear among survivors and to mobilise resources for a speedy trial”, reported the Times of India.

Read more

This roundup is curated from the RSS feeds of more than 30 English news publications from across India.

See a fuller list of rape and sexual violence cases reported today, and earlier this week.

Use our case filter to read reports on specific cases: #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, #RapeOfMinors, #Muzaffarapur, #PoliticsOfRape (use the dropdown menu in column A).

Follow us

You can follow us on @maarnews for NewsTracker Originals and more. Or use the sign up link below to get Note This directly in your inbox!