A Catholic nun was raped for a week by a group of men in Bamunigam, Kandhamal District of India's Orissa region. The 28-year-old nun was abducted on July 5, and held until July 11. Her case did not become known until July 15. Catholic Bishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar condemned the attack, saying "The perpetrators must be brought to justice without delay and the law must take its course. What happened is a disgrace."
The victim is a native of Kandhamal and lived in Chennai, a town in the Tamil Nadu region. She told police that approximately two weeks before her abduction, she received a phone call from a woman who asked for help to attend her ailing mother. On July 5, the nun took a train to Bamunigam, where she was met by two cousins and some friends. Rather than taking her to the village of Minapanka, the men in the group led her to the place where she was repeatedly raped.
On July 11, the assailants took the nun to the Berhampur rail station and threatened her not to report the incident. She managed to reach her village on July 13 to file an official complaint. Now under arrest are the nun's cousin Jotindra Sobhasundar and accomplice Tukuna Sobhasundear. The other attackers are at large. The nun has received medical assistance and a visit from the superior of her convent. According to her brother, the rape may have been triggered by "family reasons". In 2012, the nun's uncle was murdered by Maoist insurgents. The cousin accused of the nun's rape is also among those who blame her family for his father's death.
"I condemn this gang rape of this young nun in the strongest possible terms. This is gang rape is physical and emotional terrorism against our woman" said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) according to AsiaNews. "This violation of our young woman religious - said the cardinal - is evil act inflicted on this woman religious who has consecrated her life to God Rape is an abhorrent crime and an abominable transgression against the honour of women and reflects abysmal state of women in our society, community and nation."
Cardinal Gracias asserted, "this wasn't a random act of barbarism, it was meticulously planned allegedly as an act of retaliation and this heightens the gravity of the deplorable and utterly reprehensible crime."
"The apathy of government agencies - he added - is appalling, there is a serious break down of law and order situation in Kandhamal, this was not an isolated violation, last October, two thirteen year old Christian girls were gang raped in Kandhamal. Undeniably, increasing number of rape cases has become a serious social problem. Atrocities against women , unsafe environment, eroding the rule of law are a shameful blot on our nation." The slowness of Indian justice, said Cardinal Gracias, "is perceived at times as devaluating the victims and increases their trauma by marginalizing the victims. Justice continues to evade Sr Meena Barwa." Sister Barwa, a 30-year-old Catholic nun, was gang raped and humiliated by Hindu extremists during anti-Christian riots in Orissa that resulted in the destruction of Christian homes and businesses. Christians were murdered and burnt alive in their homes by the enraged Hindu mobs. Of the 22 people arrested in the wake of the 2008 incident, 17 were able to get out on bail.
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