Lifestyle & Belief

Gang-raped Nepali nun likely to be reinstated

A 21-year-old Nepali nun whom Buddhist authorities earlier said was unfit to remain a nun after she was gang raped, is now likely to be reinstated, thanks to worldwide outrage, the Times of India reported.

The Nepal Buddhist Federation distanced itself from a statement signed by over a dozen organisations, including one of its own officials, that had said the attack on the woman had made her lose her "sheel," or faith, and invalidated her vows as a nun. It said the official's stand that the nun had become a "flawed vessel" was his personal view and not the official stand of the federation, according to TOI.

The young woman is now recovering in a hospital in Kathmandu.

The nun had left the nunnery about a year ago, reportedly to study in India, her father told the paper. When he spoke with the nunnery authorities after the attack, they were unsupportive, he said. It is not known whether the victim will choose to return to the nunnery or indeed stay on in Nepal at all, TOI said.

According to the paper, Kathmandu doctors initially refused to admit the victim, and on Thursday Nepal's official media, ignoring the norm that a rape victim should not be named, identified her by name in a report. According to her family members, that will make it even more difficult for her to go back to her village, due to the social stigma associated with rape.

Matthew Frazer, an American Buddhist and the founder of a foundation that works on behalf of Buddhists targeted for violence or abuse, has begun campaigning against the censure through Facebook and other social networking sites, the paper said.

"There is a great deal of shock and disbelief at the very idea of such an action by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists in the United States and abroad," TOI quotes Frazer as writing. "Our goal is to block the expulsion of the nun from her nunnery in Pharping (and the Buddhist Order in general). Such an action reflects badly not only on Nepal, but on Buddhists in general to the rest of the world... If such an action is taken, it will set a very perilous precedent that can be used to take similar actions against future victims."