A 71-year-old Mother Superior was gang-raped at a convent in eastern India on Saturday (14 March), after she confronted a group of armed robbers.

The robbers were caught on CCTV and eight men questioned by police following the incident at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat, near Kolkata.

The nun is still in a critical condition in hospital; prayers were said for her in churches across the country yesterday.

The men threw religious items to the ground before escaping. They have yet to be found.

A UK Christian radio station, Premier, quoted Indian feminist writer and publisher Urvashu Butalia as saying the thieves likely targeted the convent because of its links to Christianity.

“The rape … is also possibly a religious motivated attack against minorities, and to me that is the really disturbing part of it … how sexual violence is being used to target minorities.

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“I think there is a lot of resurgence of small Hindu fundamentalism groups who feel … Hinduism is somehow under threat …. Because otherwise why would they desecrate the church and throw things down and break things?”

The President of the State forum of Christian groups said the Sister had previously appealed to police for security assistance after she’d received threats.

India has long been criticised for its lack of action on sexual violence.

In December 2012 a 23-year-old woman was killed during a gang rape on-board a bus in New Delhi.

Last week a documentary about her death, ‘India’s Daughter’, was shown on the BBC in the UK, but was banned from being shown in India.

Source: The Guardian