BENGALURU: A former nun who was sexually abused by a priest and a rehabilitated sex worker are among six women who were conferred with awards by NGOs on Thursday for fighting against gender-based violence.
Lilly (32), one of the awardees, had taken her vows as a nun in 2007. In 2009, she allegedly suffered sexual harassment from a junior priest at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. “I complained about him to the higher priests. They said he had been sent abroad as punishment, which did not sound like a punishment at all. And they indirectly asked me to accept such incidents,” Lilly said.
Lilly was repeatedly transferred to different convents following the incident, and eventually decided to leave. After her mother too did not permit her to come home, a priest helped her and she completed a diploma in drama from Ninasam, a theatre institute in Shivamogga district. She currently works in staging politically themed dramas to spread awareness on different forms of oppression.
Mangala R, another awardee and a theatre activist, was coaxed by her boyfriend to leave her parents in Ramnagara and come to Bengaluru. After facing physical abuse by him, she left him. Forced to fend for herself, she was pushed into sex work.
After she became a member of a sex workers’ union, she started to report incidences of violence — something she continues to do. She has also worked in a play ‘Hasivu Kanasu’ to debunk misconceptions about sex workers.
Another awardee, Prema J K, belongs to the tribal community and lives in the forests of Kodagu. She works in a coffee estate, and has come across many instances of violence. But every time, she has fought back against the harassers.