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No compensation for rape victims

The High Court’s bench II upheld Thimphu dzongkhag court’s judgment that sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for attempting to rape an 11-year-old girl and raping a 15-year-old girl several times.

The court, however, dismissed Office of Attorney General’s (OAG) submission to compensate the victims, stating rape victims were not compensated until now and there is no amount set for the compensation.

The dzongkhag court, on December 26 last year, convicted a truck driver, Dorji Wangchuk, of attempting to rape an 11-year-old girl by engaging in “thigh sex” with the minor twice in December 2017 in his tripper truck and raping a 15-year-old girl in Changzamtok area many times.

OAG appealed against the dzongkhag court judgment, requesting the High Court to order Dorji Wangchuk to pay a compensation of Nu 60,000 to the 11-year-old and Nu 40,000 to the 15-year-old girl.

OAG submitted that although it requested the need for compensation to the lower court after discussing with the victims’ families, the court did not specify anything about it in the judgment.

Based on section 15 of the OAG Act 2015, which states, “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 14 of this Act, the Office may seek civil remedies that directly relates to the criminal prosecution,” and Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan 2004, it appealed to the High Court so that the victims are compensated for the emotional trauma they suffered.

The OAG submitted that section 202 of the Penal Code, also specifies the need for compensation.

The section states, “The victim of rape shall be entitled to compensation as per the provision of this Penal Code. Each defendant or defendants shall be liable to pay individually.”

It stated that the High Court should also take into consideration of section 36 and 41 of the Penal Code.

Section 36 states, “A Court may order a defendant to pay appropriate damages or reparation for any loss, injury, or deterioration caused to a victim,” and section 41 states, “A convicted person who is unable to pay in cash, any damages, compensatory damages, reparation or any payment ordered by the Court, may pay in kind or possessions.”

The OAG submitted that although there are no damages to the victims’ body in a way they are not in a position to work, they suffered emotional trauma and their reputations were affected because of the incidents.

Defendant Dorji Wangchuk had requested the court to allow him to pay the compensations once he serves his sentencing, justifying that he has no source of income and his parents are poor.

The High Court’s judgment stated that the conviction of the man should suffice and there is no reason for compensation as submitted by OAG.

Law practitioners are unhappy with the judgement, stating there are many cases where rape victims were compensated and the courts should not be lenient on the convicts, especially rape perpetrators. “The victims are minors here and they deserve protection and compensation,” a lawyer said.

Tashi Dema