On April 24, a mother of a 15-year-old girl had lodged a complaint with the Wangduephodrang police that her daughter, an eighth grade student in one of the schools in Wangduephodrang, had gone missing after she failed to come home.
The daughter had disappeared the same day the complaint was made to the police. The case was then registered as a Missing of Person (MoP).
On April 29, the girl was spotted near the trio junction of the Wangduephodrang checkpoint. She was spotted with two male persons, later identified as her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s father, who were on their way to the girl’s house.
The trio was then escorted to the Wangduephodrang police station where the police investigation revealed that the girl had been staying with the 20-year-old all along at Samthang, which is about 5.2km away from Wangduephodrang.
The medical report confirmed evidence of active sexual intercourse, while the duo had also confessed to the police that they had sexual intercourse. They said it was consensual and there was no coercion from the man.
However, as the girl is below 18 years of age, she is not in a position to give legal consent under Section 16 of the Child Care and Protection Act of Bhutan 2011.
The girl being a minor, the man was charged with rape of a child above 12 years and was then detained.
According to the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2011, rape of a child above 12 years of age is classified as a second degree crime which is punishable with a prison term of nine to 15 years.
Police learnt that the girl and boy had met through a social media forum. They had been communicating constantly for almost a year when they decided to meet in person on the day she went missing. The girl had gone to meet him in Samthang, where the man was staying with his parents.
The 20-year-old is said to be unemployed and had been working as a laborer. This is the first case reported to the Wangduephodrang police in relation to the rape of a minor over the age of 12.
Chencho Dema from Thimphu