Church reducing Abhaya case into issue of virginity, says CBI

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer. com published on December 16, 2008

The CBI team probing the murder of Sr Abhaya, a nun
of the Knanaya Catholic Church in Kerala, suspects that the Church is trying to
win the undue sympathy of the Judiciary by reducing the entire murder case issue
into a controversy over the virginity test on Sr Seffi, a nun arrested in the
case, as all its arguments about the accused have collapsed.

A source in
the CBI said the move of the Church, which had organized protest programmes and
prayer meetings and had published several pamphlets against the investigating
agency, was to concentrate its arguments on the virginity test conducted on
42-year-old Sr Seffi, third accused in the murder case. He said this move was to
try to win the sympathy of the judiciary by projecting the test as a huge case
of human rights violation.

The CBI had on November 19 arrested two senior
priests, Fr Thomas M Kottoor and Fr Jose Puthrukayil and a nun, Sr Seffi,
arraying them as first, second and third accused respectively for murdering Sr
Abhaya at St Pius X Convent in Kottayam on the early morning of March 27, 1992.
Since then the three have been in remand.

The CBI had told the court
that the three accused had murdered Sr Abhaya after she had seen them in
conditions unimaginable for priests and nuns. The agency had also produced
circumstantial evidences and witness accounts to prove that the two priests were
regular nightly visitors at the convent and that they were found together in a
narrow room unfit for living in suspicious circumstances and in immoral

Sr Seffi had complained to the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court,
Ernakulam that she had been subjected to virginity test without her consent but
the court rejected this after examining the documents provided by the
gynecologist of the Medical College Hospital, Alappuzha. The investigating
agency had also submitted in the court that Sr Seffi had carried out surgical
manipulations in her private parts and had artificially reconstructed her

“The effort by the Knanaya Church, whose all moves to put the CBI
under pressure and save the priests and nun through several inflammatory
campaigns have failed, is now using the issue of virginity and the test on it on
Sr Seffi with the clear intention of winning the sympathy of the Judiciary,
raising issues of feminine modesty.

“In the first place we have not done
anything beyond the brief of the law to violate her modesty. More than that
there is the very ethical question of whether the modesty of this nun now is
greater than her modesty when she had involved in the murder of a nun for the
simple reason that she had seen her and others in a circumstance that questioned
the very modesty the Church is now speaking of?”
asked the official.

agency officials also disputed the arguments put forward by some of its
influential woman leaders like Sr Jessy Kurien, member of National Commission
for Minorities. Sr Kurien said that the court would have to agree that nothing
immoral had taken place (in the convent) with the establishment that 42-year-old
Seffi was still a virgin. The CBI official pointed out that the Church, through
Sr Kurien, was telling the court the decision it should make. “They want the
court to take a decision in their favour at any cost. They are not concerned
about justice,” said the official.

Sr Kurien had alleged that the CBI had
resorted to the argument that Sr Seffi had reconstructed her hymen after its
arguments about her alleged immoral activities had collapsed. She had argued
that the technology for reconstructing hymen was not available in India, but CBI
officials pooh-poohed this.

Quoting plastic surgery experts, the
official said in the new age of shrunk globe, Sr Kurien’s arguments were flimsy.
“Does she think that we in this agency are mere idiots who would say whatever we
want without cross-examinations? Did she make the necessary enquiries about the
possibilities of virginity reconstruction methods in plastic surgery?”

CBI sources said that their worry was not whether Sr Seffi was
still a virgin or not but who murdered Sr Abhaya. The issue of the accused nun’s
virginity was just one of the factors figuring in dozens of evidences in the

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