The court system in India had failed the memory of Sister Abhaya. For nearly three decades after her murder at St Pius X Convent Hostel on March 27, 1992, her killers had walked free.
Abhaya’s slippers were scattered about the convent floor, one near the entrance, and the other by the refrigerator. Her white veil was found caught on the door; an open bottle of water was trickling on the floor. In a corner of the room was an ax, according to officers who discovered the crime scene.
Image by Times of India
Later that day, authorities found Sister Abhaya’s body hidden in a nearby the well of the Indian convent in Kottayam, Kerala.
Autopsies reveled she had nail indentations on both sides of her neck and two lacerations on her head. Abhaya’s body had numerous lacerations and had sustained a fracture to her skull. Despite the mounting evidence, not one suspect was brought into court.
For 27 years after her murder, what transpired was years of dead-end investigations along with allegations of corruption. It was not until last December that guilty verdicts were served to a priest and a nun who fought to keep their relationship a secret. Sister Abhaya had walked in on them that ominous night having sex in the kitchen, and they killed her to keep her quiet. Both the nun and priest involved were sentenced to life in prison.
Sister Abhaya’s publicized murder is shedding light on a long history of corruption that runs deep in some of the most modern religious institutions. Allegations of sexual crimes are often the ones met with deaf ears. Along with corroboration with even the highest law enforcement, many of these crimes go unpunished. The guilty verdicts of Abhaya’s case against her murderers are small victories in the fight against religious malfeasance, and hopefully not the last.
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