Gelephu drungkhag court earlier this month conducted a preliminary hearing of an incest case, where a 42-year-old man was charged for allegedly raping his niece in a village in Gelephu.

The man, who works as a driver, allegedly raped his 16-year-old niece in April this year, after calling her to his house to do some household chores.

The victim, who is an orphan, is a class six student in a school in one of the gewogs in Gelephu drungkhag. The names of the school, village and gewog are withheld to protect the identity of the victim.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged the man to the court earlier this month on two grounds, rape of a minor above 12 years and incest.

The incident happened on April 29 but was reported to police only on May 30.

OAG stated that the victim, who is raised by her aunt, could not share the incident with her aunt and uncle but since she was worried she might conceive, she told her friends in school.

The charges stated that one of the friends even asked her mother to buy a pregnancy test kit.

The students claimed that although they couldn’t report about the rape to the school counsellor because they were scared initially, they informed the counsellor after seeing the victim go through a lot of trauma.

The school principal then informed the matter to the police.

OAG stated that the uncle should be held liable for violating section 183 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, which states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a child above the age of twelve years, if the defendant has sexual intercourse with a child between the age of twelve to eighteen years.”

The crime is graded a second-degree felony with prison term ranging from nine years to 15 years.

OAG also charged the man for violating section 207 of the Penal Code, which states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of incest, if the defendant engages in sexual intercourse or any other sexual conduct with a person to whom the defendant is related by consanguinity or affinity in such a way that they cannot legally marry except otherwise provided in other laws.”

The crime is graded  a misdemeanour, with prison term ranging from one year to three years.

Meanwhile, the victim’s aunt gave a statement, claiming she raised and educated the girl after her mother died, as there was no one to look after her. She said the man is her brother and the victim’s mother was her elder sister.

The drungkhag court will now conduct an opening statement of the case.

Staff reporter