‘Will fight till I die’: Father of victim of 2003 Kerala sex racket at nuns’ protests

Justice is still elusive for the victim of the Kiliroor sex racket, but her father has vowed to fight for those struggling to survive the system.
‘Will fight till I die’: Father of victim of 2003 Kerala sex racket at nuns’ protests
‘Will fight till I die’: Father of victim of 2003 Kerala sex racket at nuns’ protests

The 13th day of the nuns’ protest in Kochi saw the presence of 59-year old Surendran, the father of the victim in the infamous Kiliroor sex racket which shook Kerala back in 2003. A minor girl was lured with opportunities in the television industry and was raped by 5 men in different parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu back in 2003. The teenage victim died in a private hospital in Kottayam in 2004.

“The CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, when the case came to light. The next day they (the accused) filed an appeal at the High Court and walked out,” says Surendran.

Fourteen years have passed since, but justice remains elusive for the Kiliroor victim and her family, with the chargesheet rotting away in the halls of the Kerala High Court.

Today, the girl’s father sits in the protest of the nuns, demanding that rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal be arrested immediately. And he vows to battle for those who’ve been wronged by the system and denied justice.

“Until I die, I will lend my support to such causes. From my experiences, I know that I don’t want anyone to have to go through such a trauma and I will fight for all those who have undergone this,” says Surendran.

In many ways, the Kiliroor case and the nun’s protest have several threads in common, Surendran believes. Both victims were betrayed by people they trusted. In the first case an aunt and cousin were complicit in the crime. In the second case, a Bishop - the head of the Diocese -  responsible for protecting those under him, allegedly raped the nun.

Both involve powerful institutions that are silently and openly lending support to the accused. The Missionaries of Jesus resorted to slandering and revealing the identity of the survivor nun. The church is stubborn in its decision to not permanently remove the rape-accused Bishop, as is the police in not arresting him. In his daughter’s case, Surendran is firm in his belief that certain political forces in the state are silently lending support to the accused, a reason for the never-ending delay in the case.

“Cases go on for years and years. The district court charges the accused and then it moves up to the High Court. From the High Court it reaches the Supreme Court. People - both the accused and the victims die - and justice is nowhere in sight. That’s the issue I have with this system,” he says.

Acts of resistance against big and powerful institutions - be it organised religion or the government - are not easy and are almost always never won. And nobody knows this better than those like Surendran, the nuns and the hundreds of  others who battle against these institutions everyday.

“Yet, the important thing is to keep fighting and to fight together,” he says.

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