Shillong: Soon after allegations of sexual assualt were levelled against two priests of the dominant Catholic Church of Meghalaya by a 40-year-old woman, the church has assured that an internal probe will be launched into the matter. The Congregation of Christian Brothers, a religious catholic in the state, on Saturday reportedly stated, “Something has happened. We understand the hurt, the pain and the shame of the victim. We want to address it.”
The move comes after the woman, Mary Therese Kurkalang, on Friday, narrated her ordeal on Facebook. In the post, she alleged that two priests – Brother Francis Gale of the Christian Brothers and Brother Muscat of Don Bosco — started abusing her when she was just five years old and continued till she was 12. The post was met with great support from the public, which triggered a response from the religious organisation.
Talking about the church’s move, Patricia Mukhim, a senior journalist and an activist from Meghalaya, told EastMojo, “Every institution promises to take up an internal enquiry whenever they happen to face sexual harassment allegations against any of its employees, but such enquiries seldom lead to justice.”
The sexual offences committed by the members of the Church have been coming to the forth for quite some time now, but the religious body continues to deny such allegations. “These things have always been there, but people have been too afraid to speak out. These priests are all looked up with reverence. But with this allegation, many more people will hopefully come forward,” said Mukhim. She added, “Such instances take place across religious organisations around the world. But, it is very rare that victims of sexual assault by so-called godmen get justice.”
Kurkalang had attempted suicide three times, but drew courage from the #MeToo movement — which is taking the entire by storm — to come out after 35 years of undergoing tremendous mental trauma.
It may be noted that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the US in August had released a 1,300-page report, which found that 300 predator priests in the state had abused more than 1,000 children since 1947.
In a very recent incident, that has redrawn attention to sexual abuse that takes place within religious organisations, a nun from Kerala, had in June alleged that she was raped by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, as many as 13 times. Mulakkal who happens to be a very influential religious figure in Punjab, had denied all the allegations. Reports suggest that a priest who had given a statement against the Bishop, was found dead at a church in Hoshiarpur district in Punjab this morning. His family has filed a police complaint alleging he had feared for his life and had been attacked earlier.