Four Indian priests accused of rape, blackmail

The woman told police that her ordeal began while still a minor in the 1990s when an Orthodox priest at a church forced her into sex. (AP)
Updated 03 July 2018

Four Indian priests accused of rape, blackmail

  • In 2016, an Indian priest was sentenced to 40 years in prison for raping a 12-year-old girl
  • Christianity is India’s third-biggest religion according to the 2011 census

NEW DELHI: Indian police said Tuesday they are investigating four Christian priests for allegedly raping and blackmailing a woman in a cycle of abuse and threats lasting almost 20 years.
The woman told police that her ordeal began while still a minor in the 1990s when an Orthodox priest at a church in the southern state of Kerala forced her into sex.
She confessed to a second priest, who allegedly blackmailed her into having sex with him. A further two two priests also threatened her and forced her into sex, the woman, who has not been named, told investigators.
“We filed a case on Monday based on her complaint. We have now started our investigation,” local police official S. Sreejith told AFP.
Her alleged suffering only came to light after an audio clip of her husband complaining to a church official went viral on social media, media reports said.
The Christan community in India, as elsewhere around the world, has been rocked by sexual abuse allegations.
Last year, a pastor accused of raping two women on the pretext of driving out evil spirits was arrested in eastern India.
In 2016, an Indian priest was sentenced to 40 years in prison for raping a 12-year-old girl.
Christianity is India’s third-biggest religion according to the 2011 census, with approximately 28 million followers or 2.3 percent of the population.
Sexual violence is rife in India with nearly 40,000 rape cases reported in 2016, which activists say is the tip of the iceberg as most cases go unreported.


Afghan study offer draws Pakistani students

Updated 27 min 31 sec ago

Afghan study offer draws Pakistani students

  • Medicine gets top marks among 150 scholarship hopefuls

PESHAWAR: About 150 students from northwestern Pakistan traveled to Afghanistan this month to take part in tests that could win them Afghan government scholarships for higher education, particularly in medicine.  

The Afghan government pays for 104 scholarships for Pakistanis every year, the Afghan consulate in Peshawar said. 

“Medical education is expensive in Pakistan, so we decided to pursue education in Afghanistan,“ Sana Gul told Arab News.

Gul was among 150 young Pakistanis who left for Kabul last Saturday to attend the scholarship tests.

The group included 11 female students who want to study medicine. 

Gul said that the Pakistanis are hoping that security will improve in Afghanistan, and that peace talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government in Qatar will end with a power-sharing deal.

“We believe the peace process will end with good news, so we are traveling to Kabul,” said Gul, who is accompanied by her sister, Spogami. Both have passed 12th-grade exams.

Their father, Farman Khan, a teacher in the Mardan district, said that his daughters made the decision to go to Afghanistan. 

“We allowed them to decide for themselves and we will stand by them,” he said, adding that he believes the region is now safe “for those who seek education.” 

Arshad Mehsud from South Waziristan also traveled to Afghanistan for the scholarship test in the hope of studying medicine.

“There is no doctor in my village,” he said. “So after completing this degree, I will come back to serve the people of Waziristan.”