High Court, Thimphu

High Court convicts a defendant to 9 years in prison for rape

High Court on 29 March 2023 convicted 39-year-old man to 9 years in prison in connection to a rape of a child above the age of 12 years. Though the Punakha District court acquitted the defended due to lack of direct or credible evidences, the High Court, however, convicted the defendant for raping his step-daughter.

As per the judgment passed by the court, the defendant has sent a letter to the victim in which he admitted to having committed the wrongdoing, and that he was sorry about what he has done to her in the past.

The judgment further stated that the verbal evidence, including the victim’s statement to her friends, matron and police was sufficient to convict the defendant. The victim’s statement did not change, which is why court took her statement into account in sentencing him.

The court stated that in cases of rape, the victim is often the only witness.

The defendant was accused of raping her step daughter multiple times between 2019 and 2020. It was learnt that the alleged rape occurred during the funeral rites of her late mother, and thereby, it continued.

He was convicted as per Section 184 of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2011. The section states that the offence of rape of a child above the age of twelve years shall be a felony of the second degree.  

Meanwhile, one of the victim’s aunties said that they, for a while, got disappointed with the judgment passed by the district court. “We felt that there are no laws to protect our children because despite submission of the evidences, they acquitted the defendant. We lost hope that very day. However, we are very happy with the judgment passed by the High Court,” she added.

She further said that the victim, after the judgment from the district court, has tried attempting suicide. One of their aunties along with the OAG has then appealed to the High Court.

The victim is going to school. 

The initial incident took place between 2019 and 2020 wherein the incident was reported to police in September 2021. She was 16-years-old during the time of incident.

The matter came to light when the girl ran away from home to her school where she begged the school to take her into the hostel. The girl was in a highly traumatized state, and she talked to the school counselor. This was when the entire matter came to light, and the police was informed and the police in turn registered a case but dragged its feat citing lack of evidence. This paper then pursued this story to highlight the case and how it was stuck.

The defendant has appealed to the Supreme Court.

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