Gang rape of nun, 74, sparks outrage in India

The gang rape of an elderly nun in West Bengal has intensified anger over sexual violence in India.

A 74-year-old nun was attacked by six men during a burglary at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, which was attached to a school in eastern West Bengal.

The woman is in a stable condition in a hospital near Calcutta.

Prayers for her are being said in churches throughout India.

The Archbishop of Calcutta, Thomas d’Souza, told the BBC that there are only three sisters in the community.

“One sister was molested badly. The other two, and a guard, were tied to chairs.”

The men also stole money from the school, he said, vandalised the chapel, broke open the tabernacle and took away a ciborium.

“They not only committed a heinous crime, but they also vandalised the chapel . . . This is the first time such an attack has happened in India,” he said.

Eight men have been detained by police and there are reports that four of the six attackers have been identified through CCTV footage.

A reward of 100,000 rupees is on offer for any leads on the suspects.

The attack has fuelled fears among beleaguered Christians in the country.

Christian groups have recently held protests in the capital, Delhi, saying they are being targeted and demanding better protection.

A spate of attacks on churches prompted the Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, to promise a crackdown on religious violence.

Mr Modi had been heavily criticised for not speaking out earlier against religious violence.

He has also faced flak for remaining silent about a spate of mass “re-conversions” of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

The 2012 gang rape of a student led to a major reform of India’s rape laws, speeding up trials and increasing penalties.

But many campaigners say little has changed for women.


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