Support is pouring in for the survivor in the controversial nun rape case even as Additional District and Sessions Court acquitted the accused Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the charges.
Actresses Parvathy Thiruvothu and Rima Kallingal who are always at the forefront of supporting women took to social media with the hashtag ‘avalkoppam’ (with her always) following the shocking verdict in the case. Both shared the picture of five nuns who came out publicly against the Bishop despite the apparent pressures of the Church. Parvathy in her chain of the Instagram story expressed her strong resentment over the verdict.
“Absolute cruelty,” wrote the actress.
“None of the witnesses backed down. Medical evidence was supportive. Situational evidences were supportive. The only ‘drawback’ was delay in reporting. And if that was the reason this man was acquitted-it is a disgusting shame for all humanity and church,” reads the Instagram story shared by Rima Kallingal.
A group of nuns of Kuravilangad Convent, who have been standing with the survivor in her fight, were on the verge of tears when they said they were yet to believe such a verdict came out from the court and they did not know what has happened.
The survivor and her supporters stay in the Kuravilangad convent in this south Kerala district.
Sister Anupama, who was the face of the nun’s years-long fight for justice, said they would surely challenge the verdict in the higher court and take forward the fight of their hapless colleague.
“We will continue our stay in the convent and take forward our fight till our sister gets justice. Police and prosecution showed justice to us but we did not get the expected justice from the judiciary,” the teary-eyed nun told reporters.
Investigators, lawyers and social activists who stood with the nun in her fight against Mulakkal expressed shock over the verdict, saying it was totally unexpected.
Terming the verdict as “very, very unfortunate” and “unnatural”, senior IPS officer S Harishankar, who had led the special investigation team in the rape case, said 100 per cent conviction was expected in the case and the verdict would be an “astonishment” for the entire legal system of the country.
In the case, the survivor was a nun and the assailant was a person who was powerful enough to decide whether she should continue to live or die.
“The argument that the woman should have reacted at the time of molestation is unacceptable. An appeal will be filed in the higher court challenging this verdict. The state police chief already gave instructions in this regard and an appeal will be filed as soon as we get a copy of the verdict,” he told reporters.
Even the supreme court made it clear multiple times that the victim’s statement, if it is consistent and not having massive contradictions, is a satisfactory piece of evidence for conviction, he said, adding that it would give a wrong message to society and those suffering similar assaults silently.
Public prosecutor Jithesh J Babu said it was a single-line judgment and could avail the details only after getting the copy of the verdict.
Activist-nun Sister Lucy Kalappura, who took part in the survivor’s fight for justice and was expelled from her congregation recently, said the verdict was regrettable and expressed hope that justice would be prevail at any cost in the higher court.
In her complaint to the police in June, 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by Franco Mulakkal between 2014 and 2016.
The Special Investigation Team, which probed the case, arrested the Bishop in September 2018 and charged him with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.
(With PTI inputs)