Naked Truths Of Convents : Amen - An Autobiography Of A Nun

. 2/20/09

"Amen-An Autobiography of A Nun" is an autobiography of a 52 years old nun Dr. Sister Jesme from Kerala India. The book describes how unsafe are nuns in convents and how they are treated there in the name of christianity. The book is a live bomb for christian world. Dr. Jesme is a well known scholar and before leaving her congregation she was principal of St. Mary's college at Thrissur. Allegations made by Dr. Jesme are very grave and putting question marks on sanctity of the convent. Catholic Church of Kerala is silent on the book. Certainly this book is not a publicity stunt.

A book written by a former nun is threatening to embarrass the Catholic Church in Kerala.

Amen - an autobiography of a nun is written by former nun Dr Sister Jesme and threatens to reveal what allegedly happens behind the closed doors of convents.

The book claims that harassment and sexual repression take place in convents.

“I wanted an outlet for my trauma. It'll help me start my second life afresh. The society has the right to know what's happening to the sisters,” says Dr Sister Jesme.

Sister Jesme was the principal of St. Mary's College in Thrissur till she quit the congregation last August alleging harassment from superiors. The church in turn has labelled her mentally sick.

“Thirty-three years cannot be penned down in 180 pages but there are points the I want to make about the capitation fee, the quarrels that happen within the church, about the homo-sexuality, the hetero-sexuality,” says Jesme.

"When a woman is molested, sexually harassed, will she speak out? Only one out of a thousand will speak out. So think of nuns! They will never speak out. They fear that their nun hood will be lost," said Sister Jesme.

Her autobiography had to wait till she had retired as the Principal of St Mary's College in Thrissur and had quit her congregation.

Even then there was pressure from the church. She was offered money to stop writing.

''One sister said that she is going to sit in the corner of the chapel and pray the rosary so that all my books will be burnt and no person will be able to read it. I said let us wait and see whose prayer will God hear,'' said Sister Jesme.

The first edition is sold out in less than a month. The second, too, is fast disappearing from the book shelves.

Even though the church has dismissed the book, in the book readers have found resonance of reality.

Like the case of 19-year-old Sister Abhaya, who was murdered because she spoke out against sex in the convent or sister Anupama Mary, who committed suicide, allegedly unable to face sexual harassment by a senior nun.

''I have just opened a window, only one window, and through that window if they see dust or dirt inside the convent, at least in a corner, and if one sister cleans the corner of the convent, then my book has been rewarded," said Sister Jesme.

The book comes soon after the Central Bureau of Investigation booked two priests and a nun in the high-profile sister Abhaya murder case. The state women's commission now says it will take up Jesme's case very seriously.

“We are studying the matter and will take it up seriously. I cannot tell you anything more on this issue,” says State Women Commission Chairperson, Justice Sree Devi.

The Catholic Church in Kerala is silent on the book and not reacted officially to the 52-year-old nun's book. All it has said is that the book contains only trivial matters. But Sister Jesme is undeterred as she is looking for publishers in English and other regional languages. In the election season political parties too would be cautious about raising these allegations.

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