Wrong to assume victim of domestic sexual abuse can't perform well at school, a Mumbai court says while convicting man for daughter's rape

The special judge of a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act court in Mumbai, Jayshri R. Pulate, sentenced the accused to ten years in jail.

October 06, 2022 01:19 pm | Updated 04:44 pm IST - Mumbai

Representational image only.

Representational image only.

It should not be assumed that a victim of sexual assault at home would not be performing well in exams or behave normally otherwise, a court has said while convicting a man for raping his minor daughter for several years.

The special judge of a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act court in Mumbai, Jayshri R. Pulate, sentenced the accused to ten years in jail on September 29. A detailed order became available on October 5.

The accused worked on a ship in Saudi Arabia and visited his family in Mumbai every two months, as per the prosecution.

His wife noticed in 2014 that whenever he was at home, their daughter avoided him and stayed in her room. The girl eventually told her mother that he had sexually assaulted her many times over the previous seven years. She was facing this nightmare since she was ten years old, the girl said. A case was registered after her mother approached the police.

Convicting the man, the court dismissed the defence's argument about the delay in the registration of complaint, stating that the girl was very young when the abuse began and initially she did not understand what was happening.

When she attended a sex education session in Class IX, she understood that she was facing sexual abuse. “Even then it was natural for her to be concerned about the loss of financial support for the family if her father went to jail,” the judge noted.

During cross-examination, the girl stated that she got on average 70% marks in Class IX and attended school regularly. Attendance at school was not affected by the accused's presence at home, she had said.

She had also said that the accused regularly brought new clothes and toys for her and her siblings.

Defence argued that these facts do not square with the allegations of sexual abuse. But the court said the reaction of every victim of sexual assault can not be the same. "It should not be assumed that the victim of sexual assault could not secure good marks in exams,” the judge said.

“The fact of regular school attendance and good performance in examinations would not discredit her allegations,” the court said.

The ‘normal’ behaviour by the accused such as bringing clothes and toys for his children did not mean he would never commit the kind of heinous offences he was accused of, the court said in the ruling.

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