Sister Sefi, one of the three arrested in the Sister Abhaya murder case, has accused the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of conducting a virginity test without her consent. The Church and women’s groups have slammed the agency, accusing it of rights’ violation.
Sister Sefi’s charges come after the agency told the court on December 2 that Sister Abhaya was killed after she found Sister Sefi, Fathers Thomas Kottoor and Jose Putrike, both of who have also been arrested, in a compromising situation.
Three days later, Sister Sefi told the court that she was too embarrassed to talk of her “harassment” earlier and wanted her statement to be recorded again. The CBI contended that Sister Sefi had “used modern techniques in medical science to tamper with the evidence”.
The court turned down the plea, observing that the plea to record her statement afresh was filed after she was tutored.
The CBI had arrested the three on November 19, 16 years after Sister Abhaya was hacked to death. The body was found in the well of the Pious X Convent in Kottayam, 150 km north of here, on March 27, 1992.
The Church and women’s group have extended support to Sister Sefi, accusing the CBI of violating human rights. “Nuns and priests aren’t above law, but just because she’s a nun, she can’t be denied her basic rights. It is an inhuman act, intended to tarnish her image,” Father Paul Thelekkat, Syro-Malabar Church spokesperson, said.
Sister Jessy Kurian, a member of the National Commission for Minority Institutions, while agreeing that if the test was conducted without her permission, it was a “clear violation of human rights”, did not want to comment as the matter is sub judice.
“We have definite information that she had undergone hymenoplasty to restore her virginity. If she is innocent why did she undergo such an expensive surgery?,” the CBI sources, who didn’t want to be named, said. But inmates of Sefi’s convent deny the charges. “We know she had undergone fibroid and D&C surgeries. Most of the middle-aged nuns do. The probe agency is deliberately distorting facts,” a colleague of the nun who didn’t want to be named said.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths common among women and need surgical intervention, while D&C, or dilation and curettage, literally refers to the dilation of the cervix and surgical removal of the contents of uterus.