The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has charged a 31-year-old woman from Punakha for child trafficking.

The case is on trial in Bumthang dzongkhag court. Five hearings were conducted after the case was registered in December last year.

OAG submitted their rebuttal on April 22 and claimed the woman, who had worked for Natural Resource Development Corporation (NRDCL) in Bumthang, trafficked the eight-year-old girl from across the border in 2016, made her babysit her child, battered her and even pushed her in the fire, which would cause the child life-long impairment.

According to OAG’s charges, the case surfaced on April 15 last year when the child was brought to Wangduecholing hospital for grave infections and wound. The hospital’s medical officer reported to police suspecting battery.

Kuensel learnt that the defendant, however, took the child from the hospital and health officials had to ask police to trace the woman and the child.

The child was then brought to the hospital again in June last year and police, the focal person for National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and RENEW’s volunteer in Bumthang rescued the child and brought her to Thimphu.

OAG charges stated that although the child confessed in the presence of NCWC officials that the wounds, scars and burns inflicted on her were because the defendant had battered and pushed her into the fire.

“The child’s mother confirmed the defendant took her daughter saying she would take care of the child and let her play with her child,” it stated. “The mother said she has many children and problems at home.”

According to the mother, the defendant initially allowed her daughter to call her but stopped it completely later. “When the child’s father wanted to take the child, the defendant did not allow, saying she is away with other children and that she is undergoing treatment for some wounds on the leg.”

The defendant, however, claimed that she brought the child from Gelephu. She also denied battering the child and claimed the child sustained the wounds after she fell into a fire made for hot-stone bath.

OAG charges stated that another woman, who stays in Chumey, told police that the defendant asked her to find a babysitter and she contacted the child’s mother. She also travelled with the defendant to collect the girl from across the border.

OAG also submitted that forensic reports from the national referral hospital stated that the wounds the defendant sustained were because of battery and not accidental.

The defendant will rebut the charges on May 7.

Nim Dorji | Bumthang