‘Society has right to know what’s happening to nuns’

The autobiography of a former nun in Kerala,in which she recounts her ‘harrowing’ experience during her time spent in the cloisters,is selling like hot cakes even as the influential Catholic church is yet to react to the charges in the book.

Written by Agencies | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: February 20, 2009 5:19 pm

The autobiography of a former nun in Kerala,in which she recounts her ‘harrowing’ experience during her time spent in the cloisters,is selling like hot cakes even as the influential Catholic church is yet to react to the charges in the book.

In her memoirs in Malayalam titled ‘Amen’ (so be it),’Sister’ Jesme writes of alleged sexual abuse,corruption and power struggles in the ‘dark confines’ of convents where she had lived for about 30 years.

The book has come out at a time when the influential Catholic church in Kerala is facing a difficult time following the arrest of two nuns in the infamous Sister Abhaya case.

The church is yet to officially respond to the tell-all reminiscences of the 52-year-old Jesme,holding they would react to it after studying the book.

An English professor and the Principal of a church-run college in Thrissur,Jesme quit the convent in 2008 after spending years of ‘sufferings and struggles’.

Jesme,who continues her religious life or ‘sanayas’ even after leaving the convent,said the aim of the book was not to just sell something juicy but to ‘open a little window to allow some light to enter into silent sufferings of hundreds of women.’

“I wanted an outlet for my experiences of my trauma. Society has every right to know what is happening to Sisters,” Jesme said dismissing suggestions she has sensationalised issues to get cheap publicity.

“When a woman is molested only one in thousand will speak out. Then think of the nuns,they will not speak out the truth,” Jesme,now staying in Kozhikode,said.

Jesme reminisces that she had had hints of things turning out against her right from the day she joined a convent as an aspirant for nunhood while continuing her college studies.

Lesbian relations are quite common in many convents where nuns often get bonded as pairs for emotional and physical relief,she alleges in her book.

Jesme says she had her first rude shock as a novice when a couple of fellow sisters told her that a priest assigned to preside over the retreat asked them to kiss him.

Startled by what she had heard,she asked the priest if it was proper to have done such a thing. She not only failed to get a convincing reply but was asked to ‘submit to the discipline expected of a nun’.

Summing up her long struggles,Jesme writes: “I renounced the position and the financial security as the principal of the church-run college to submit to God’s will and win divine freedom and peace. I am opening up my heart to my friends who understand me when confronted with harsh realities of life”.

Jesme’s friend and lawyer R K Asha,who helped her in writing the book,said the work was not meant to tarnish the church’s image as alleged by certain quarters.

“She had shown courage to expose the unholy things happening in convents and whatever she had written are truths,” Asha said.

“We do not want to react to it without properly studying the book. We will come out with our response in a day or two,” Vicar General of Thrissur Diocese,Fr Rafael Thattil,said when the church’s views on the book were sought.

The literary and political circles too have declined to react as most writers are shying away from making any comment when contacted.

The book,published by DC books,has already had its second impression within a fortnight of its release.

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