The incident of a nun being gang-raped in West Bengal’s Nadia district has left the country outraging, yet again.
The 71-year-old Sister Superior of the convent school in Ranaghat sub-division was brutalised on Saturday by dacoits who also decamped with Rs 12 lakh.
As the incident occurred after several attacks on churches across the country, some have suggested the incident was not only an attack on women, but also an attack on the Christian community.
Reacting to the incident, principal of Sophia College for Women in Mumbai, a nun herself, Dr Ananda Amritmahal , writes in Quartz that the incident was first an attack on womankind, then an attack on Christians and also an attack on nuns.
Calling the incident an eyeopener for the country in terms of “the intersecting levels of rampant communalism, religious fundamentalism, political manoeuvring and economic imperatives”, Amritmahal, says:
“As a woman, I am involved every time a woman is attacked, raped, killed. Rape has always been the “ultimate” weapon against not just a woman but against all womankind, and against the entire community to which the raped woman belongs. Imposing what a patriarchal mindset calls a “fate worse than death” upon the victim, it proclaims the power and supposed invincibility of the rapist. It underlines the vulnerability of the victim, and worst of all, it imposes the burden of shame and guilt upon the victim. She, not the perpetrator, is “dishonoured.”
The brutalisation of the nun also comes at a time when the Narendra Modi government is already being criticised for emboldening religious fanatics. While the PM has made several statements reassuring the people of the country that there was no place for religious bias in India, fringe Hindutva groups have continued their ‘ghar wapsi’ programme and the likes of Sadhvi Prachi have continued to make communal remarks.
The gangrape has also elicited reactions highlighting the possibility of a communal angle in the incident.
The Hindustan Times quoted West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee as saying, “We can sniff political conspiracy in the incident. It may be designed to malign the state government.”
And it isn’t only the West Bengal government that speaks of this being an attack on Christianity. Amritmahal in the Quartz article says:
As an Indian Christian, the attacks on the community and on Christian places of worship in my own country leave me aghast, shaken to the foundations in my belief that as Indians we bring a large acceptance and understanding to our multiculturalism. Shaken also in my belief that this is fundamentally a law-abiding country. Questioning the value of our protected status as a minority community, guaranteed by the Constitution. Confused, bewildered, struggling to cope with a sense of a betrayal of trust. Struggling to hold on to my belief that we are essentially good people, that my neighbours and I are essentially one people, united in our plurality.
Like any other rape case, or act of communalism, our elected representatives have promised strict action. And despite several protests and promises, our country sees such acts of violence quite regularly. This has made many, including Amritmahal skeptical.
Read Dr Ananda Amritmahal’s full article on Qaurtz here.