Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Tsirang police division will soon submit a charge sheet to the courts for a 26-year-old man from Dagana who allegedly raped a minor.

He has been in police custody since the first week of this month.

Sources said that the suspect and the 13-year-old girl met through Facebook in June and had been seeing each other since then. Earlier this month, the girl, who is a student in one of the schools in Tsirang, was reported missing and the case was reported to the police by the gewog administration.

However, the girl returned home the next day. Upon inquiry, she confessed the relationship. They had reportedly spent a night together in a hotel in Damphu.

As reported by the gewog administration, the man was arrested. He reportedly works as a mechanic in one of the automobile workshops in Tsirang.

According to the Penal Code of Bhutan, the rape of a child above the age of twelve years is a second-degree felony with a prison term ranging from nine to 15 years.

However, law enforcers said that actual implementation of the penalty has faced challenges.

A source was of the opinion that if the relationship was consensual for those above 15 years of age, the degree of sentencing should be reduced, believing that the economic burden on the country would be reduced.

When the relationship is consensual, and if they happen to have children, a child has to grow without a father amid social stigmatisation and hardship. “The societal impact is immense.”

There should be different sentencing for different age groups, one opined. For example, lesser sentencing for those between 15-18 years, if the relationship is proven to be consensual. “It could be charged as a misdemeanour.”

Edited by Tshering Palden