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Woman sentenced to nine years for statutory rape

The mother, who was charged with voluntary manslaughter of her new-born in Phuentsholing, has been handed two years prison sentence this week after the charge was altered to abandoning an infant. 

The Phuentsholing court sentenced the 27-year old mother from Haa to nine years in prison for the second charge, statutory rape of the 16-year old student who she claimed was her child’s father. 

In the early morning of April 15 last year, a police patrol team found a 3.6kg newborn dead in an alley of Goedoe Lam, Phuentsholing. 

Police arrested the cleaner of a school in Haa, the school principal and a teacher, who had shared the room with her that evening. The three had come to Phuentsholing for some work. 

The prosecutor argued citing medical jurisprudence and the Lung Floating Test that the baby was born alive. The judgment stated that the test was not conducted. 

The doctor from Phuentsholing hospital also submitted that he was not sure whether the child was born alive. The death certificate from Phuentsholing hospital stated that the cause of death was the resultant head injury from the fall. 

She submitted to court that the baby was not alive when she delivered it in the hotel bathroom adjacent to the room, where the two teachers were sleeping that night. They were charged with aiding and abetting of voluntary manslaughter along with the woman, but the charges were later dropped. 

She said that she kept the baby on a space behind the window and that it had fallen off when she came to see it later that night. 

The court ruled that it was not convinced, beyond reasonable doubt, on the charge of voluntary manslaughter. It thus ruled it as a case of abandoning an infant or child. 

The court found her guilty of violating the Penal Code for which she was sentenced to two years in prison. 

The woman, in her initial statement, said that a cow herder in her village was the father of the child. 

However, during the course of the investigation, police found that the father of the child was only 16 when they had mutual sexual intercourse. The boy confessed to having an affair with her but said that he was unsure it was his child. 

The court sentenced her to nine years for statutory rape because the student was below the age of consent (18 years) while they started physical relationship in 2016.

The penal code states that a person shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a child above the age of 12 years if the person 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.

Police sent blood samples of the principal and teacher in Kolkata for a DNA test. The test results have not yet arrived.

Tshering Palden 

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