The Christian Conference of Asia is shocked at the news of the rape of a 47-year-old Nun from Kerala, belonging to the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, on 19 June 2015 by two unidentified men in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India. It was equally shocking to hear that she was discovered the next morning gagged and tied to her bed at the medical center in which she serves. The medical center “Khrist Sahay Kendra” (Christ help center) has been functioning in the area for the last 60 years.
Earlier on March 15, a 71-year old nun of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) was gang raped in Ranaghat, West Bengal state.
It is the opinion of church leaders that the frequent attacks and the failure of the authorities to book the culprits show that these are planned attempts to intimidate, threaten and humiliate missionaries through the rape of helpless vulnerable nuns. This is seen not as an isolated incident but as part of an orchestrated violence targeting Christians, which began with attacks on Christians, then churches and now sexual violence on nuns.
We the Christian Conference of Asia representing 101 member churches and 17 Councils of Churches across 21 countries in Asia, express our deep sorrow and concern over the increasing sexual attacks on Nuns and Christian Missionaries, and attacks on Priests, Churches and Christian institutions in India. The CCA and the global community are deeply concerned at the growing violence against Christians and the minorities. The growing trend of using rape of defenseless and vulnerable women and girls including nuns as a means of manifesting religious and communal intolerance is cowardly and unbecoming of a nation that is renowned for its rich traditions and cultural heritage of tolerance and peace.
Though the Indian Government had enacted strong legislation after the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, the continuing reports of gender-based violence against women and girls, including nuns, women and girls with disabilities, expose the wide gap between good policies and poor implementation, and lack of police accountability.
We join hands with the Churches in India in condemning these acts of brutality and violence against religious minorities in India. We assure all concerned that Christianity and Christian missionaries in India have a long history of service in the fields of health and education, and have contributed considerably to nation building in the true biblical spirit of love and compassion for all. Let us not forget the sacrifices of ‘women religious’ who have left home and family to work among people in remote areas in spite of risks to themselves. Incidents of violence against women and religious minorities, raise serious concerns over the security and safety of minorities in India and tarnishes the image of the country.
We therefore urge the Indian government to provide adequate security for the religious minorities and to safe guard their rights; to consider rapes and violence against women based on religion and attacks on women and children in general, as serious violations of their human rights; to take special interest to arrest the culprits involved in these crimes, and to ensure police accountability.
These measures would go a long way to inspire confidence in Christians and other minorities and will assure them that they are valued as citizens of India.
Photo: Candle light vigils were held in many places across India to protest the violence of rape