A septuagenarian nun in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal has been gang raped by a group of men after she tried to stop them from robbing a missionary school.
News reports say the six men entered the Convent of Jesus and Mary school in Ranaghat, about 50 miles northeast of Kolkata, the state capital, early Saturday. After overpowering the school’s guards, they raped the nun — whose reported age ranges from 70 to 74 — and escaped with money, a laptop and a mobile phone.
The nun was taken to a hospital where she is said to be in stable condition.
Angry students and their parents blocked trains and roads in protest against the incident.
“Christians in Bengal are deeply anguished by the shameful act of violence on an elderly and ailing religious sister at Ranaghat,” Archbishop Thomas D’Souza, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kolkata, said in a statement. “We would like to register our horror and shock at this barbaric act which has occurred in our tolerant and inclusive state of West Bengal.”
Mamata Banerjee, the state’s chief minister (roughly equivalent in power to the governor of a U.S. state), condemned the attack as a “horrific crime” and ordered an investigation.
The Associated Press has more on the backdrop to this rape:
“India has a long history of tolerance for sexual violence, but the December 2012 fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman aboard a moving bus in New Delhi caused outrage across the nation.
“The outcry led the federal government to rush legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The law also makes it a crime for officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made.”