In Support of Raped Nepali Nun

Subject: In support of raped Nepali nun…

Dear Nepali Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare:

My name is Matthew Frazer. I am a Social Worker and Buddhist from
Chicago, USA. I am also the founder of a small, but active group of
concerned Buddhists from around the world. The Yeshe Tsogyal
Foundation was started as an organization that promotes advocacy in
cases of violence or abuse against fellow Buddhists (both monastic and
non-monastic).

On behalf of our over 100 members, I would like to bring to your
attention the alarming situation of the possible expulsion of the 21
year-old nun from Adivasi on grounds that she has broken monastic vows
due to being raped. There is a great deal of shock and disbelief at
the very idea of such an action by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists in
the United States and abroad.

In this particular case, our goal is to block the expulsion of the nun
from her nunnery in Pharping (and the Buddhist Order in general).
Such an action reflects badly not only on Nepal, but on Buddhists in
general to the rest of the world. We feel it is not only a question
of expulsion of this one particular nun, but that if such an action is
taken, it will set a very perilous precedent that can be used to take
similar actions against future victims. So this case is one with far
reaching ramifications.

In a recent article written in the Times of India,
(http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-07-11/south-asia/29760391_1_nun-buddhist-organisations-buddha)
an official, Norbu Sherpa, from the “Nepal Buddhist Federation,” was
quoted as saying, “Such a thing never happened in the Buddha’s
lifetime, so he did not leave instructions about how to deal with the
situation. Buddhists all over the world adhere to what he had laid
down: that a person can no longer be considered ordained in case of
having a physical relationship. It’s applicable to both men and
women.”

On the “Aims & Objectives” section of the Nepal Buddhist Federation’s
website (http://www.nbf.org.np/aboutus.php?sn=2), the very first
statement reads,“This Federation will be a non-profit, service
oriented social organization. The objective of this Federation will be
to defend the rights of Buddhist followers based on the principle of
religious tolerance and to promote, preserve and conserve the Buddhist
sacred places.” We find this statement contradictory to the recent
statements by Mr. Sherpa. In addition, it seems to us that the
negative publicity that this event is bring upon Nepal will discourage
people from the United States and Europe to come to tour, “the
Buddhist sacred places” such as the stupas, etc. We have attempted to
reach the Nepal Buddhist Organization by email for more information
about what part of Buddhist Sutra Mr. Sherpa is referring to, but we
have received no response from this organization.

Our research identifies the following information which rebuts the
idea that rape constitutes a breach in monastic vows:

From Buddhist Monastic Code I:
(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/bmc1/bmc1.ch04.html):
“Knowledge & consent. For sexual intercourse to count as an offense,
the bhikkhu/ni must know that it is happening and give his or her
consent. Thus if s/he is sexually assaulted while asleep or otherwise
unconscious and remains oblivious to what is happening, s/he incurs no
penalty. If, however, he becomes conscious during the assault or was
conscious right from the start, then whether he incurs a penalty
depends on whether he gives his consent during any part of the act.”
-Buddhist Monastic Code I, Chapter 4, Pārājika -by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The Pali text explication to Bhikkhu/ni Parajika One can be found at
http://www.tipitaka.org –>Roman–>Tipitaka
(Mula)–>Vinayapitaka–>Parajikapali–>1.Parajikakhanda–>68.

68. Tena kho pana samayena aññataro māṇavako uppalavaṇṇāya bhikkhuniyā
paṭibaddhacitto hoti. Atha kho so māṇavako uppalavaṇṇāya bhikkhuniyā
gāmaṃ piṇḍāya paviṭṭhāya kuṭikaṃ pavisitvā nilīno acchi. Uppalavaṇṇā
bhikkhunī pacchābhattaṃ piṇḍapātapaṭikkantā pāde pakkhāletvā kuṭikaṃ
pavisitvā mañcake nisīdi. Atha kho so māṇavako uppalavaṇṇaṃ bhikkhuniṃ
uggahetvā dūsesi. Uppalavaṇṇā bhikkhunī bhikkhunīnaṃ etamatthaṃ
ārocesi. Bhikkhuniyo bhikkhūnaṃ etamatthaṃ ārocesuṃ. Bhikkhū bhagavato
etamatthaṃ ārocesuṃ. ‘‘Anāpatti, bhikkhave, asādiyantiyā’’ti.

68.~Then it came to pass that a certain man became infatuated with
Uppalavanna Bhikkhuni. Then that man, when Uppalavanna Bhikkhuni had
gone for out for almsround, hid in her kuti under her bed. When
Uppalavanna returned from her almsround to her kuti, that man came out
and forced himself upon her. Uppalavanna Bhikkhuni mentioned this to
the bhikkhunis, who in turn mentioned it to the bhikkhus, who then
inquired with the Buddha about it. The Buddha informed the bhikkhus:
“There is no offence, bhikkhus, as she was without intent or consent.”

Here it is clear that consent is needed to break the monastic vow of
celibacy; rape, which by definition is an act of violence and not one
of sexual consent, does not qualify. We, at the Yeshe Tsogyal
Foundation, ask you to please take action to protect the nun’s status
as a Bhikkhuni, and provide her the necessities she needs to recover
from her horrific incident.

Regards,

Matthew Frazer, MSW

CC: Nepali Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers,
Nepali Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Sakyadhita
International Association of Buddhist Women, Avaaz, Protego Nepal,
Asian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Transformation (ASPECT),
USNepalOnline, National Women Commission of Nepal, Nepal Institute of
Development Studies (NIDS), NRN National Coordination Council,
Non-Resident Nepali Association, Tzu Chi International

Received via Nepali Women’s Global Network.

One thought on “In Support of Raped Nepali Nun

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