A 40-year-old Buddhist nun whose melodies have transformed her into one of Nepal’s most popular singing stars, has caused a new stir for which she refuses to apologize.
She has extended sanctuary to a nun half her age who became stigmatized after being gang-raped last month. In Nepal’s culture, a rape victim is often blamed and shunned.
Choying Drolma, the red-robed, Buddhist nun with a shaved head — whose prayer chants have won her thousands of followers in Nepal, China and the West — stepped up as an advocate for a 21-year-old nun who was thought to have lost her right to remain a nun after being raped by five men in a bus.
“On Tuesday, after the dazed victim was discharged from the hospital,” reports the Buddhist Channel, “Choying offered her a new home at Arya Tara, the school run by Nuns’ Welfare Foundation. Choying founded the non-profit organization with the money earned through her singing to provide education to Buddhist nuns – called anis – who mostly remain neglected while monks have greater access to education.”
Once criticized by the Buddhist community for her global tours, big cars and unashamed fondness for Hindi films and songs, Choying has continued on her own way, heedless of critics. She has been featured in magazines like Marie Claire and co-authored a biography, Singing for Freedom, using the royalties to start a diagnostic center for treating kidney diseases.
Now it has been learned that Choying paid for the raped nun’s medical treatment, following it up with appeals to friends. They have opened an account in Kathmandu’s Mega Bank in the name of the nun, raising more than US $2,000 rather quickly.
“This is for her financial security,” Choying told a reporter. “The law says the rapists will have to pay her compensation. But the way things work here, that will take a very long time. We have to find a way to protect her.”
Choying has also been in touch with officials who are pursuing prosecution to ensure that the five men arrested for the attack are not freed.
However, she is now concerned that the worst is yet to come.
“When the trial starts, the attackers will get lawyers who will try to pin the blame on the victim,” she said. “It will be an ugly thing and my primary concern is how she will deal with it emotionally.”