KOCHI:Probably for the first time in the history of the Church in Kerala, a nun who was allegedly expelled from her congregation after she raised complaints of sexual harassment against a priest would be provided with compensation of Rs 12 lakh.
The move is being considered as a victory for Sr Anita, who sought refuge in an orphanage in Aluva and was waging a battle against the Church and the Sisters of Agata, the congregation to which she belonged. The decision to award the compensation was taken at a conciliation meeting held at St Joseph Church, Snehapuram Church Road, Thottakkattukara, Aluva on Sunday. The meet was attended by Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Fr Paul Thelakkattu, Sr Anita’s immediate relatives, and Jose Maveli, chairman of Janaseva Sisubhavan, where the expelled nun sought refuge.
As per the terms of the settlement the nun has been asked to give up her robes. Though she was expelled from the congregation Sr Anita had refused to give up her religious life. The tussle between Sr Anita and the congregation began in 2011 after she complained against a priest who attempted to sexually abuse her. The alleged incident happened while she was serving as a teacher in Panchore in Madhya Pradesh.
She was subsequently transferred to Mother House in Italy in May, 2012. According to her, she faced physical and mental harassment from the convent authorities while in Italy. “There were days when I was not given food. After a series of mental and physical torture, I was thrown out of the convent in Italy on February 19,” she said. When she tried to stay in Italy, with the help of a nun known to her, the congregation authorities bought her an air ticket to Kochi, Sr Anita said. Back in Kerala she was denied entry to the Sisters of Agata convent in Thottakkattukara. Sr Anita, a native of Kannur district, joined the congregation on January 15, 2007.
Fr Paul Thelakkattu, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Church said the decision to award her money should not be seen as compensation, but a help generously extended by the congregation to help her. “It cannot be termed as compensation. It shows the generous attitude the congregation has for a nun who served it for several years,” Fr Thelakkatu said.