#MeToo: Christian body assures fair hearing for Shillong sexual abuse victim

first_imgThe Congregation of Christian Brothers in India (CCBI) has assured “just and fair hearing” to a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy in Meghalaya capital Shillong almost three decades ago.In a statement issued on Tuesday, the CCBI said the “Christian Brothers stand in solidarity with and in support of any survivor of sexual abuse”. This followed a Facebook post as part of the #MeToo movement against one of its members.In her post a few days ago, 40-year-old Mary Therese Kurkalang had named two Catholic priests – Brother Francis Gale of St. Edmund’s School and Brother Muscat of Don Bosco – as having sexually abused her when she was a child.The CCBI statement did not make it clear which of the two Brothers the congregation has referred to.“We are committed to a just and fair hearing to both the complainant and the alleged abuser, through a formal process as laid out in our protection policy – Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults. This policy looks into all cases of abuse, past and present, so as to ascertain with compassion the truth and support the survivor towards achieving a peaceful closure while taking appropriate action against the alleged abuser, if found guilty,” the statement from Brother J. Johnson, society protection officer of CCBI’s Profession Ethics Commission, said.“Accordingly, a due procedure will be initiated as laid out in our said policy to take this serious allegation forward towards arriving at the truth and assisting the survivor with necessary help to attain due closure. Even as these internal processes are carried out, we stand committed to cooperating with the agencies of the law,” the statement said.Ms Kurkalang took to Facebook last week to write: “Three years ago, at the age of 37, I finally decided that I needed professional help and found a wonderful counsellor. Through the months of counselling, there is one session that stands out for me, where I felt literally like someone lifted this huge boulder lodged in my chest that was there since I was 5 years old.“What she said to me at that session was that as a child, from a broken family, an economically poor background, left to my own defences, I made the ‘ideal profile’ of the victim for a sexual predator. Even though as an adult, I understand and can differentiate that I was not responsible, it is hard to really feel and live that knowledge, to not blame myself. What my counsellor said to me that day answered the ‘why’ I have asked over and over again ‘why me’ and it gave me such huge relief to have finally found an answer that I knew to be true. It’s a long journey and an ongoing one to stay whole, balanced, sane as someone who was sexually abused through my childhood, age 5 till age 12.”She said she had attempted suicide thrice as a teenager and young adult, twice landing in hospital in a serious condition. “Through the years I have struggled to find comfort and sanity in spirituality, immersing myself in work, and later, in a close circle of friends I trust, these have helped me pull through. There will always be a part of me that is a big gaping hole of sorrow and darkness – of a childhood I did not know, of an innocence I never knew, of the fear and deep shame I have lived with for so long, and for not being believed, not being protected, and for the deep injustice I felt,” she said.She went on to name Brothers Gale and Muscat, recollecting the many ways in which they abused her.last_img

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