Despite the rampant abuse of nuns, they cannot stand up against the church, said Sister Jesme, who had quit the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC).
“When a nun faces abuse within the church, she cannot just leave as she neither has finances nor support from family or the society. Though the church says they are for the nuns, they have never stood up for us,” the nun said.
Speaking at ‘Mard Ko Dard Hoga: #MeToo’, a session at the Bangalore Literature Festival on Sunday, the nun described her experience of leaving the church in 2008, which resonated with the audience in the aftermath of the rape case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese.
“After spending 33 years inside the church, I knew the system was all fake. I was asked to strip by a priest here in Bengaluru. My mother wanted me to speak out, but later my family, including her, abandoned me for seven years. The convent termed me ‘insane’ and called me names. I could leave because, as a former college principal, I get pension from the UGC. Most nuns, however, do not have that backing,” Sr Jesme said.
In the session anchored by journalist Barkha Dutt, director Vinta Nanda, who had posted her #MeToo story of being raped by senior actor Alok Nath on Facebook, shared her experience of directing him after the incident.
Journalist Sandhya Menon, who had shared horrid tales of sexual misconduct by her seniors, said on Sunday, “I wanted to be a journalist since the eighth grade. But after all these incidents, I do not want to be an active journalist.”
Tushita Patel, who was part of the team that started Asian Age, said it was former journalist and editor M J Akbar’s denial of sexual harassment allegations that made her speak up. “When he issued a statement, refuting all the allegations, I was enraged. When he filed a defamation case against (journalist) Priya Ramani, I thought if I don’t speak, I’ll be complicit in his crime,” said Tushita, who alleged that Akbar welcomed her in his hotel room wearing just an underwear.