British journalist accuses Mother Teresa sisters

An undercover investigative reporter from Channel 5 in the UK has exposed what he claims to be cruel and unprofessional treatment of disabled children in the care of the Missionaries of Charity order in India.

AsiaNews reports that the nuns confirmed in a subsequent interview it conducted that on "rare occasions" they are forced to rely on "extreme means" due to understaffing and the risk of the children hurting each other.

The Channel 5 journalist, Donal Macintyre, went undercover in Daya Dan or Gift of Compassion Home where seven nuns are in charge of 59 children with different kinds of physical and mental disabilities, aged six months to 12 years.

Macintyre filmed children being fed, hands bound with strips of cloth, recalling how, at night, they were tied to their cots with similar strips. He also filmed the children left unattended in the toilet, at times for up to 20 minutes. In his view, this highlighted the Sisters' poor training in dealing with disabled children.

Macintyre, who carried out the investigation for Five News channel, said two international Catholic care givers urged him to go and out of concern for the conditions in the Daya Dan home.

In an interview with an Indian TV channel, Sister Christie MC said: "Physical restraint is used only when absolutely necessary and for the safety of the child and [. . .] only and for a limited period."

Mr Haque, Secretary of the Kolkata Social Welfare Department, told AsiaNews that "[w]henever any allegations are brought to our notice, we immediately investigate the case with some senior officer for the Department."

Kolkata's Deputy Commissioner of Police N. Ramesh Babu added: "We will investigate and then take action. But firstly, we have to be sure and verify the allegations."

Sister Nirmala Joshi, superior-general of the Missionaries of Charity, currently abroad, sent AsiaNews an official statement in response to the journalist's allegations. She stressed that physical restraints are used "only when absolutely necessary for the safety of the child and for educational purposes for limited periods of time".

"We try to provide all that is necessary for the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of those under our care, and are committed to continual efforts at improving the quality of care we give them," she said/

British journalist makes accusations against the Sisters of Mother Teresa (AsiaNews.it 3/8/05)

4 Aug 2005