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Man gets 9 years in prison for incest and rape of minor

Gelephu drungkhag court last week sentenced a 42-year-old man to 10 years for incest and rape of his niece.  It is a non-compoundable sentence.

However, considering that the defendant did not have any criminal record, he was given a concurrent sentence of nine years in prison.

The man, who was a driver, raped his 16-years, four-months-old niece in April this year, after calling her to his house to help with some household chores.

The victim, who is also an orphan, is a class six student.

The defendant submitted that the incident occurred on the afternoon of April 29 and that it was consensual and not rape. The man said that he was under the influence of alcohol. The girl in her statement submitted that it was not consensual.

The court cited the doctrine of distress corroboration as victim’s three friends in their statements to the court submitted that they had seen her in distress after the incident.

Medical report showed signs of penetration.

The age of consent in Bhutan is 18 years. The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Hence, the court ruled his conduct as rape.

The maternal uncle, Pema Tshering was found guilty of violating Section 183 of the Bhutan Penal Code, which is a second-degree offence.

The section states: “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a child above the age of twelve years if the defendant commits any act of sexual intercourse against a child between the ages of twelve to eighteen years. However, consensual sex between children of sixteen years and above shall not be deemed to be rape.”

The court also accepted Office of the Attorney General prosecutor’s charges of incest against the man. The court’s judgment ruled that having sexual activity with his niece was incest, which in itself was a crime. “It does not matter whether it was consensual or not, as he has violated the penal code provisions,” the judgment stated.

The penal code, section 207 states that a person is guilty of incest, if the individual engages in sexual intercourse or any other sexual conduct with a person to whom the person is related by consanguinity or affinity in such a way that they cannot legally marry except otherwise provided in other laws. The offence is a misdemeanour.

Given the least prison terms for second-degree felony, which is nine years and one year for misdeamenour, Pema Tshering would receive a sentence of at least 10 years.

The court also ordered Pema Tshering to pay a compensation of Nu 45,000 to the victim within three months of the judgment.

Tshering Palden 

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