Four days after a Khasi art and communications consultant, Mary Therese Kurkalang, put up a Facebook post alleging sexual harassment by two members of the Catholic church in Shillong, the Congregation of Christian Brothers said they would initiate an inquiry.
“The Christian Brothers have learnt of an allegation of sexual abuse by one of its members made through a Facebook post as part of the #me too movement,” said Brother J Johnson, Society Protection officer, Professional Ethics Commission of the community, in a statement. “The Christian Brothers stand in solidarity with and in support of any survivor of sexual abuse. 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’.”
Kurkalang named two, one of the Christian Brothers and another of the Salesians of Don Bosco order — religious communities that run educational institutions — of molesting her in Shillong in the 1980s, when she was a five-year-old.
In her post, Kurkalang wrote about one: “… he was a trusted ‘friend’ to my family and held in great esteem as a ‘religious man’. I was sent to him for tuitions — I was 5 when he first showed me his penis and asked me to touch it. I told a family member and adult I trusted most then, and I was slapped and told never to make up such stories.”
About the other, she wrote, “This man would sit behind his huge desk in his office, where he had drawers of sweets and toffees – as a child, in the presence of adults on the other side of the table – he would call children to his side of the table and ask us children to choose toffees from his drawers and while we did, he would slide his hands up our thighs and feel us up.”
Kurkalang recounted how three suicide attempts landed her in hospital twice. She maintained that she did not want to take legal recourse, but said, “This for me is my closure – to come out, without shame, and share the crimes that were done against me.”
In 2012, Kurkalang founded a company, Khublei, that promotes and organises events in the arts, publishing and social development.
When The Indian Express contacted her, Kurkalang responded in a Whatsapp text that she “was not in a space to talk and her statements are on Facebook and are public.” “I have nothing to add,” she said.
The Don Bosco community has not yet issued any statement.
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