Support grows for gangraped Nepal nun

July 21st, 2011 - 4:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, July 21 (IANS) Support began to grow for a Buddhist nun from Nepal who was gangraped in a public bus last month with organisations in the country as well as abroad taking up her cause.

The 21-year-old, whose attack is the rarest of rare case in post-democracy Nepal, will now have her medical treatment in a Kathmandu hospital supported by a fund-raising concert.

Three Nepali pop bands - Robin and the New Revolution, Abhaya and the Steam Injuns, and Nepsydaz - will take part in a benefit concert to be held in the capital Aug 6.

The nun, who is still in a state of deep shock and unable to speak coherently, belongs to the Tamang community, an indigenous people who are among the most disadvantaged in Nepal.

The Nepal Tamang Ghedung, an association to protect the rights of the community, handed over a sum of money to the nun’s father for her treatment, saying it had been collected from a Buddhist religious meet in Pokhara city.

Besides financial help, expressions of solidarity are also pouring in from world over after several Buddhist organisations in Nepal said, soon after the attack, that the nun had lost her religion.

Matthew Frazer, a Buddhist social worker from Chicago and the founder of the Yeshe Tsogyal Foundation that promotes advocacy in cases of violence or abuse against Buddhists, began lobbying with the office of Nepal’s Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and the cabinet as well as rights organisations.

Frazer is pointing out that the Buddhist Monastic Code says for sexual intercourse to count as an offence, the monk or nun involved in it must know that it is happening and give his or her consent.

“If she/he is sexually assaulted while asleep or otherwise unconscious and remains oblivious to what is happening, she/he incurs no penalty,” the code says.

Facing growing criticism after an official of the Nepal Buddhist Federation (NBF) said that the attacked nun had lost her religion and was now a “damaged vessel”, the Buddhist federation began to distance itself from the statement, saying it was holding talks with the nunnery in Nepal, where the nun had been a novice, to accommodate her back once she recovered.

The federation said it would do everything in its power to help restore the dignity of the nun and continue to fight for justice.

The nun was travelling home in eastern Nepal on June 24 when the bus became stranded due to bad weather.

Forced to spend the night in the vehicle, she was reportedly attacked by five men, who included the driver of the bus and his two helpers.

Though police arrested five men, indigenous organisations are expressing the apprehension that there could be other culprits who are still at large.

The Nepal Adivasi Janjati Mahasangh, the largest federation of indigenous organisations, is also asking the government to enact a new law that would treat the rape of nuns with even more severity.

Currently, rape is punishable in Nepal with a prison term of maximum 20 years.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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