Kochi: Ollur in Thrissur has gained worldwide attention because of Fr. Raju Kokken who was arrested for allegedly molesting a nine-year-old girl two years ago. This year’s Oscar winning film ‘Spotlight’ deals with child molestation cases involving Catholic priests all over the world and the credits at the end of the film mention Ollur, the only place from India.
If you open a blog called Sylvia’s Site, you will find the rape victim’s entry on this case, which has received a lot of comments. Most of them say “Came here after watching Spotlight” that shows how the ‘Boston Globe’ published stories on the huge number of child molestation cases by Catholic priests – as many as 90 of them – in Boston alone. The final credits give a list of places across the globe from where molestation by priests have been reported, including Ollur.
“When a writer or director wants to make a movie on a theme, they will make a study. Here their intent is to show the priestly class, the persons supposed to protect the weaker groups, violating them,” says Fr Philip Parakkat, member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR).
“In Kerala, it is not so rampant like in the west. But there have also been incidents where helpless children are exploited by the people who are supposed to protect them, like the father, teacher, police, or someone in authority. But when the priestly class, who are expected to be a model in protecting women and children, does this, it gains special attention. And it is not only limited to priests of the Christian community, but of all religions. Any person who violated children or women should be prosecuted,” he said.
Many supportive institutions have come up after the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 came into force. And this has brought to light a number of cases. The legal system has come in very forcefully, a special court has been constituted, speedy inquiry happens. There are also many supportive agencies like counselling centres, Child Line and SCPCR, he said.
Ms Shoba Koshy, who works as chairperson at SCPCR, said the code of silence has been broken ever since Pope Benedict XVI apologised to the victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland back in 2010.
“If something like this comes to light, the answer is not to remain silent but to do what is correct and proper. The important thing is the child. Where a child has been harmed in any way by any person, action should be taken. The message here is clear. By giving the best picture award to Spotlight, the world community is acknowledging the fact that you need to stand together in support of child rights,” she said....