Thimphu police detained a 19-year-old man for rape of a child above 12 years of age on October 26.

The case, which was initially filed as a ‘missing of person’ case, was forwarded from Paro police to Thimphu police on October 26 after the police in Thimphu were informed that a 16-year-old girl, who went missing from Haa on October 20 was in Thimphu.

A police official in Thimphu said the girl, a student in Paro was found with the man, her boyfriend who is a school dropout in Thimphu on October 26.

According to their statements to police, they met through Facebook and were in a relationship. She came to Thimphu to meet the man who is from Punakha.

On investigation, it was found that they were into a sexual relationship. “They confessed to the act,” the official said. “Although the act was found to be consensual, the man is in detention for further investigation.”

The man was detained for violating section 183 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004, which states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a child above the age of 12 years, if the defendant has sexual intercourse with a child between the age of 12 to 18 years” although the act was consensual.

Meanwhile, the amended section 183 of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2011 states that, “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 official said that this exception would apply if the defendant was a minor. However, this exception does not apply to the defendant in this case because he is 19-years-old. According to the convention on the rights of the child, a person below the age of 18 is a child.

The crime is graded a second-degree felony. A defendant convicted of a felony of the second degree will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of a minimum of nine years and a maximum of 15 years.

Dechen Tshomo