India’s Rape Epidemic Hits New Low With The Gang Rape Of A 70-Year-Old Nun (IMAGE)

Just days after Indian lawmakers banned the showing of a BBC exposé on rape culture in the state, another high profile rape has rocked the country – this time, the victim was a 70-year-old nun.

As CNN reports:

A gang of robbers struck a Christian school in eastern India on Saturday, and one of them raped a 70-year-old nun, a senior official said.

The man apparently did so, because she resisted the robbers, said P.B. Salim, chief administrator of the West Bengal state’s Nadia district.

Previously, a church official had told CNN sister broadcaster CNN-IBN that three or four of the men had raped the woman.

The woman was Sister Superior at the school. She raised the alarm when seven or eight men burst into the complex in the early hours of the morning, and they ‘punished’ her with a brutal gang-rape. Father Dominic Emmanuel of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese told reporters:

“It is a very, very shameful act, first of all, to rape any woman, any female,”

“But this one becomes even worse because, first of all, she is an old lady and then on top of it, she is a nun. She is a religious [and] has consecrated her life to God and all her life she has remained a virgin.”

Eight suspects have been detained.

The woman is now in medical care and like so many survivors before her, begins the physical and emotional battle to recover from rape. In India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes.


The alleged rapists captured on CCTV cameras at the convent school

India’s Daughter, the BBC documentary banned in India, revealed attitudes among sectors of the society which consider rape as the inevitable (even desirable) punishment of dishonorable women – that is, women who seek any part in public life outside the patriarchal power structure imposed upon them.

The BBC team interviewed Mukesh Singh, one of the six men convicted of the gang-rape and murder of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012. Medical student Jyoti Singh, weeks away from beginning her first internship as a doctor, was returning from an evening screening of Life of Pi with a male friend when the pair boarded a private bus. Singh was driving and five of his friends also aboard. They beat Jyoti’s male friend, then proceeded to brutally gang-rape her, violating her with an iron bar. She died from her injuries thirteen days later.

But Mukesh Singh, awaiting hanging for his crimes, is unrepentant.

“A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night,” he says to the documentary team.

“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boys and girls are not equal.

“Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.

“About 20 percent of girls are good.”

Yet more chilling, were the views of the male defense lawyers.

AP Singh had previously said that if his sister or daughter “disgraced herself” by being seen with a man, he would go “to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight”. In the film, he says he stands by those words.

Another defense lawyer in the case, ML Sharma, said:

“In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.

“You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

Hundreds of thousands of Indian men and women marched against the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, and the rape culture of India. But the government and police have done little to support their fight.

Meanwhile, the rape epidemic spirals out of control.

In the last week alone:

And now the gang-rape of this 70-year-old nun.

Once again Indian society is mobilizing, with angry students and their parents blocking trains and roads in protest.

However, the rapes persist, as do the pervasive attitudes which encourage and advocate them. The fact is that rape is less about sex than it is about power and control. For many men within India and around the world, rape is a means of asserting their power over women.

If a woman wants to become a doctor, or watch a film, or walk alone in public, or hold down a job, or decline an offer of sex or marriage, or have an opinion, or defy an order – such men and their peers deem her punishable by rape. Right now, those men riddle the Indian justice system, the police, and the legislature. So a cultural war is under way in India, between the old guard and the new – and what’s at stake is every woman’s right to live without the fear of rape.

Featured Image by Yoram via Creative Commons