The survivor nun in the rape case against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal has written to the State Women’s Commission against a YouTube channel called Christian Times. In her letter dated October 19, the nun stated that the Malayalam channel has been targeting her and the other nuns who supported her in the case, and has been harassing them.
Introducing herself as the survivor in the rape case against Franco, she wrote, “After filing the complaint against Bishop Franco, a YouTube channel called Christian Times has been constantly maligning me and my fellow sisters. We suspect that the YouTube channel is run by Bishop Franco and his fellow workers.”
Christian Times has 52,000 subscribers and features numerous religious videos. It also includes videos that attempt to ‘investigate’ and dissect the rape case against Franco Mulakkal, and even videos against sister Lucy, who has openly supported the survivor nun.
The survivor nun also stated that she had filed a complaint against the channel at the Kuravilangad Police Station in Kottayam. However, she said it did not deter the channel from posting more videos.
“After filing the complaint, the channel posted more videos against me and my fellow sisters. In some videos, they used some photos of me, my fellow sisters and officials probing the case. I fear Franco Mulakkal and his group are trying to reveal my identity to the public,” she stated.
According to the nun, there are already eight cases registered against Franco for threatening and insulting her and the other nuns in the case. “It is a clear violation of his bail condition of the Kerala High Court,” she added in the letter.
‘Videos aim to malign us’
“Most of the videos are aimed at threatening and slandering me and my fellow sisters,” the survivor nun pointed out in the letter.
Majority of videos on the Christian Times channel are titled ‘Bishop Franco Mulakkal Nun Fraud Case’. The videos, where the online channel owners are decidedly supporting Franco, call the accusation against him ‘fabricated’. While the video uses pictures of nuns at the convent, as mentioned by the survivor nun in the letter, the faces have been blurred.
In one video, in an attempt to belittle the survivor nun, the narrator can be heard saying: “You can’t blame the nun for naming Franco, because she did not show the courage to say that another person sexually assaulted her. As a result, an innocent Bishop, who was even jailed, suffered.”
In another video titled ‘The Day After Resisting Rape, Standing With Bishop With Smile’ (roughly translated), the narrator wonders how a rape victim could travel with the rapist. This, without factoring in the often disregarded reality of the kind of power the perpetrators, especially a religious leader, wields over the victim.
The channel also tries to discredit the protests by the five nuns – Sisters Alphy, Anupama, Josephine, Nina Rose and Ancett – at Kochi’s Vanchi Square last year, demanding Franco’s arrest. Constantly mocking the efforts of the nuns, the narrator even equates their protests with ‘another April Fool’s Day’.
In her complaint, the survivor nun mentioned some of the videos, including one titled ‘Reactions against blackmailing nun and conspirators’.
The nun has sent the complaint to the National Women’s Commission as well as to the State Human Rights Commission.
Reacting to the letter, the Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council Convenor Felix J Pulloodan told TNM, “The channel clearly aims to isolate the survivor nun and tarnish her image in society. The Kerala government must take legal action against this.”
Trial to begin on November 11
The Kuravilangad police have given a summons to Bishop Franco to appear before the Kottayam district sessions court, as the trial in the rape case will begin on November 11. It was seven months after he was arrested in the case of raping the nun at the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kottayam that a chargesheet was filed against him.
The nun, belonging to the Kuravilangad Convent of the Missionaries of Jesus, had filed the complaint against Franco at the Kurivilangad police station on June 27, 2018, alleging that the Bishop had raped her 13 times, between 2014 and 2016.
After the police arrested Franco, he was given bail. On August 26 this year, the case was shifted to the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Pala, Kottayam.