Stepfather sentenced to life imprisonment for raping 9-year-old stepdaughter

The Panbang Dungkhag Court on 6 April 2022 convicted a 35-year-old man, Neten Wangchuk, and a 36-year-old man, Sangay Gyeltshen, to life imprisonment and 5 and half years in prison respectively.

Neten Wangchuk is the stepfather to the 9-year-old victim, and the court convicted him for statutory rape. Sangay Gyeltshen was convicted for attempt to rape of the same victim.

Both the men were arrested on 15 November 2021 after the incident was reported to the Panbang police by the mother of the victim. However, they could not ascertain when the incident really took place.

The forensic report revealed a tear on the hymen of the victim, which was evident to ascertain a rape. However, the report could not reveal anything other than that as the crime was reported late to the police.

It was learnt that though the police and the Office of Attorney General (OAG) charged Sangay Wangchuk with rape of a minor, however, the court had altered the charges against him and convicted him for attempted rape, as there was no concrete evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sangay is the neighbor of the victim and is from Nganglam while Neten is from Kilikhar, Mongar.

In addition to the prison terms, the court ordered Neten and Sangay to pay Nu 45,000 and Nu 26,250 respectively as compensation to the victim.

The court has convicted Neten Wangchuk as per section 182 (b) of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2021. The section states that the offence of statutory rape shall be a life imprisonment if the defendant is (i) is in a position of trust or authority towards a child, (ii) is a person with whom the child is in a relationship of dependency, or (iii) is in a relationship with a child that is exploitative of the child.

Sangay is convicted as per section 134 (a) of the same Act, which states unless otherwise indicated in this Penal Code, the defendant who is guilty of the offence of criminal attempt, solicitation, or criminal conspiracy shall be liable to third degree felony (5 years to 9 years’ prison term), if the offence is of first and second degree of felony.

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