Home / News / Gang-raped Buddhist nun awaits justice in Nepal, but religious officials say she is a damaged vessel and can no longer be re-instated as nun
Gang-raped Buddhist nun awaits justice in Nepal, but religious officials say she is a damaged vessel and can no longer be re-instated as nun

Gang-raped Buddhist nun awaits justice in Nepal, but religious officials say she is a damaged vessel and can no longer be re-instated as nun

Nepali Girls

According to a recent survey India is one of the world's "five worst places," to live as a woman. Women get leered at and harassed in public, they get attacked and abused regularly. But recently, attention has focused on neighboring Nepal where  an unprecedented event in the history of the country which has left Buddhists confused about its consequences occurred. In the last week of June, in eastern Nepal, a Buddhist nun was gang-raped.

She was returning home on a public bus but was forced to spend the night inside the bus and  gang-raped by the bus driver and four accomplices. Now while she remains in state of semi-consciousness at the hospital, the news continues to send shock waves through the Buddhist world and two related questions continue to asked. The first is will the nun get justice?

Observers fear that the nun may never get justice because Nepal's archaic laws do not have clearly stated provisions for protecting women victims of rape, not to mention the more complicated issue of the protecting women from social stigma and ostracism which follows the victim's new identity as a rape victim–a fact which explains why most women victims of rape do not  report the crime.

The second question, related to the first is, will she or should she be reinstated in the Buddhist community she belonged to as a nun?

This question expresses the dilemma the Buddhist community of eastern Nepal is facing. And the confusion is growing over this question because nobody knows the answer to the question as yet.

Norbu Sherpa an official of the Nepal Buddhist Federation said to the Times of India,

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.

Norbu Sherpa further explained:

A vessel that is damaged once can no longer be used to keep water … Buddhism all over the world says this. Even the Dalai Lama says you can´t be a monk or nun after marriage.

While the leadership of the Buddhist monastic order in Nepal continue debating the problem, the unprecedented crime of rape of a Buddhist monk highlights the growing problem in Nepal. According to reports, a Kathmandu non-governmental organization the Women's Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) says that violence against women claimed 22 victims in the three months from April to July. The deaths were said to be related to dowry, witchcraft, domestic and sexual violence. According to statistics released by the Informal Sector Services of Nepal, 225 cases of rape were registered in 2008, with 7 cases of rape related murder and 31 cases of gang rape. Added to these appalling rates of gender related violence among scores of unreported cases, Nepali girls are reported to be victims of a bustling human trafficking industry which drives between 10,000-15,000 women every year across the borders to neighboring India, with about 7,500 being trafficked within Nepal for commercial sexual exploitation.

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Transmodernist writer and thinker. Author of "Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus"
  • Why do you repeat the ignorant and discredited opinion of Mr Sherpa? His own organization has backed away from his statement. If you like – contact me and I'll send you the links.. As for the claim that this did not happen during the Buddha's time – please refer to: Pali Vinaya 3.35: ‘anāpatti, bhikkhave, asādiyantiyā’ti.

    This is not about Buddhism. This is about some patriarchal-based honor punishment system…

    You desperately need to do more research..

    • Thanks for the information Mr. Roy Goodwin. But the article was not expressing the writer's opinion but Mr. Sherpa's who is a leading official of the Nepal Buddhist Federation. My duty as reporter is to quote credible authoritative sources; and Mr. Sherpa being a high ranking official in the Nepal Buddhist Federation may reasonably be presumed authoritative on the subject. I can't help it if Mr. Sherpa got his information wrong! The press release by the NBF denying Mr. Sherpa's statement was late afterthought reaction to the widespread criticism of the hardline stance of the NBF especially in the Western press. And unfortunately, the press release was not sufficiently widely circulated. Major press reports in the last 24hrs have been carrying highly critical reports on the NBF stance on the case as stated by Mr. Sherpa because they are not yet aware of the NBF's belated reversal of its position.

  • You really are several days behind. More than two weeks ago the Nepal Buddhist Association "distanced itself" from the earlier statement and claimed Mr. Sherpa had only been speaking for himself, not the Association. Here is the link:


    More recently, the assaulted nun left the hospital and is now being sheltered by another nun, Ani Choying Drolma, who runs several charitable organizations, including a school and welfare associatio for nuns. At this point, there is no longer any question that the nun will remain a nun as long as that is her wish. Choying is a remarkable person; here is her website:


    Mr. Sherpa's comment drew condemnation from other Buddhists around the globe, because it was entirely out of line with what Buddhism teaches. There is no teaching anywhere that nuns have to be virgins, and the Buddha's moral teaching make it clear that if one sincerely did not intend to commit an act — accidentally killing someone, for example — there is no blame attached.

    I agree with Roy Goodwin. This is not about Buddhism. This is about some patriarchal-based honor punishment system.

  • The retraction / clarification by the Nepal Buddhist Federation was published on their site on 7/19/11. Here is the link: http://www.nbf.org.np/news.php?sn=72

    It was then refernced in an article on the Times of India on 7/21/11. Here is the link for that article: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-07-21/south-asia/29799488_1_buddhist-nun-gangraped-nepal-nun-buddhist-order

    Given this information has been available for weeks now – you and the God Discussion organization had the capability and responsibility to get the story correct.

    Now that you are fully informed – I request that you rewrite the above article or print a retraction.

    The young Nun, who has been savagely attacked, and then threatened with ostracizing by the very people who are supposed to protect her deserves your best work.

    • apologies Roy Goodwin the NBF reaction has been published. Thank you.

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