On June 24, 2011, a 21-year-old Buddhist nun traveling to visit family in far eastern Nepal had to spend the night on a bus halted by flooding. The driver and four other men from the bus company gang-raped her until she lost consciousness.
She spent several weeks hospitalized across the border in India before returning to Nepal, having suffered physical injuries and psychological trauma. The case, though registered with police, became stalled—giving rise to fears of corruption. Meanwhile, the bus company agitated for release of its men.
Nepal’s Buddhist organizations condemned the rape but proclaimed that the survivor could no longer be a nun nor return to the nunnery—her only home since age 12—because she was now impure. Norbu Sherpa of the Nepal Buddhist Federation was quoted in The Times of India: “A vessel that is damaged once can no longer be used to keep water.”
The Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), became the nun’s attorneys, and employed law and the global women’s movement on their client’s behalf. Their networking alerts inspired international public outrage. Sherpa’s declaration was reversed in a new Federation statement.
The nun’s family had to take out a loan to cover her medical expenses. Additional funds were needed for continued treatment, plus legal representation and travel expenses from Kathmandu back to the remote part of the country where the case would be heard in court.
And this is where Donor Direct Action comes in.