A former nun in Kochi, who recently spoke out against alleged sexual harassment she faced at a convent, is now being threatened for raising her voice, according to her family. The 28-year-old woman left St Joseph’s Provincialate convent at Pachalam in May 2019 after 11 years of service due to alleged mental and sexual harassment she faced there.
However, the former nun’s father told TNM that ever since she spoke to the media, she has been receiving threatening calls. The woman planned to attend a press meet in Kochi on Tuesday but declined at the last moment because of the threats.
Last week, 28 protesters, led by the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement (KCCRM) held an agitation in front of the convent at Pachalam, run by the Assisi Sisters of Mary Immaculate Congregation. They demanded that the convent provide compensation for the services rendered by the former nun during the past 11 years.
“She had spoken to some media after the protest. Following that, she received threat calls warning her not to say anything that would humiliate the convent and church,” the former nun’s father told TNM.
According to her father, she was threatened by people who called her and posed as journalists. “They were blaming the people who were leading the protest, saying they are against the church and are trying to defame the convent, and that she should not be part of them,” he said.
The woman, who hails from a Dalit Christain family, now works as a teacher in Karnataka. The family participated in the protest last Saturday, in part, to help raise funds for the woman’s marriage arrangements.
“Despite large public support, the church is still against the survivor nun in Bishop Franco Mulakkal rape case and Sister Lucy who came out in support of her. We come from a humble background and after the threat calls, she is afraid of whether we will be left alone in this,” the father, who works as a daily wage labourer, said.
The woman earlier told TNM about her experiences in the convent. She had left home to join the convent after Class 12, but faced severe restrictions while in the convent. She then alleged that the superiors in the convent did not even allow her to talk to other people or make friends.
The Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement is planning to launch a hunger strike in front of the convent in Pachalam to elicit a favourable response from the church. “We will wait till January 25. If there is no favourable response, we will start a hunger strike from next day,” said George Joseph, who belongs to the executive committee of the KCRM.
“It is important that the public stands strong in this protest,” George said.