By Marlies Bosch
Last days in Ladakh and there are still many things that need to be dealt with, such as discussing the construction of a water reservoir at the new nunnery in Basgo, sponsored by the Foundation Educare.
In mid-July Ingrid Foeken and I gave a workshop on sexual abuse and celibacy. It is much needed because many girls are very young when they start residing at the nunnery and they are not given any information about such things at home. And in the nunnery too no one prepares them for such situations.
Most nuns do not know anything about ovaries, ovulation, what happens with menstrual cycles etc. Everyone has heard something about sexual abuse, but no one really had any idea what that means. Without going into too much detail, the entire workshop was a success, there was an openness that was moving, the nuns shared their feelings, wanted to know what sex really was, whether it was bad ....
They understood very well the difference between violent rape and seduction, the tactics and temptations monks use to get them to have sex, with examples (that generated a lot of laughter) of how monks flatter and flirt with the nuns, stroking their arm etc. the difference was made very clear.
Girls spoke of strange feelings on seeing romantic scenes in movies .... We spoke about guilt and shame due to the fact that girls and women are often told that they "trigger" and bring this upon them. We spoke about how they can support each other. How to find a counselor if they came across something like that. We also laughed, at some of the childhood experiences that Dr. Palmo shared like when she was travelling in a bus in Delhi a Muslim man suddenly groped at her breasts.
We talked about the differences between men and women, but especially about the enormous distance between monks and nuns, women do not receive the full ordination making them 'lower' in the hierarchy.
It’s surprising to know that the current book on the body of women, is not utilized and read well. This book is an adaptation of the famous Ourbodies Ourselves, published in 2005 and carefully rewritten for the culture here. We hope the nuns from this workshop will make use of it.