Nunís Suicide Rocks Kerala, Womenís Panel Alleges Harassment

By T.k. Devasia
Kaleej Times

August 14, 2008§ion=subcontinent&col=

TRIVANDRUM - Another Catholic nun has committed suicide in Kerala, giving credence to the State Women's Commission's observation that all is not well in the convents in the state. A suicide note found on the body of the 23-year-old nun, Bindhu Anoopa, at the St. Mary's Convent at Quilon said that the nun had ended her life due to harassment in the convent.

The nun's distraught father Pappachan said that her daughter had told him that his daughter had faced sexual harassment at the convent. Anoopa allegedly committed suicide in her room at the Saint Mary's Convent in the Port area on Monday.

The body of the nun, who belonged to the Holy Cross Order, was found hanging from the ceiling fan inside her room at the convent. Anoopa is the 16th nun to commit suicide in the state in the last 12 years.

The last incident was that of Sister Lisa, whose body was found in the guest room of her convent near Kottayam last year. The deceased nun's father, Joseph Thottathil, blamed the convent for his 34-year daughter's death.

Describing the incident shocking, the Kerala State Women's Commission sought a detailed investigation into the death of a nun at Quilon on Monday.

Commission Chairperson Justice D. Sreedevi told reporters here on Tuesday the nun was a victim of sexual harassment. "Her father told me that she had ended her life unable to bear the harassment. The nun had also mentioned this in a letter to me", she added. Sreedevi said the nun's death in the convent gave credence to the commission's observation about the poor plight of nuns in the convents. "The incident has vindicated our suggestion for rules governing enrolment of nuns", Sreedevi added.

She said that the commission would closely monitor the police investigation into the nun's death. The commission would also consider conducting a separate inquiry if necessary.

"We have received several complaints regarding the harassment and torture faced by nuns. The church and its organizations tried to crucify us when he pointed them out. We will press our demand for a legislation for the rehabilitation of nuns", Sreedevi said.


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