Feb 20, 2009 (DVB), A man in Bago who sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl has been released on bail after local police decided to charge him with criminal assault against a woman's modesty instead of attempted rape.
The mother of the girl, who is a resident of Bago’s Oathar New township ward 8, told DVB that a 30-year-old man from a wealthy family who lives in the same ward had sexually assaulted her daughter in the second week of this month.
"I sent my daughter out to a shop near by our house to fetch something on the evening when [the man] assaulted her," said the mother.
"It was around 7pm in evening; he saw her in the street on her way back and asked her to come to him."
When the girl refused, the man grabbed her, pulled her onto his lap and assaulted her, the girl's mother said.
"Then he dragged her into a nearby bush and she cried out and then heard people approaching," she said.
"He gave her 300 kyat and ran away."
The girl's mother said she had examined the girl when she returned home and found evidence of bruising.
The girl’s father filed a report at Bago police station 3 located about a mile from their ward but the police decided to treat it as criminal assault rather than attempted rape and released the man on bail.
The man had a history of carrying out similar assaults on two previous occasions.
A local woman, who lives next door to the girl’s family and assisted in filing the report at the police station, said the incident was ignored by ward authorities as the man is related to one of the ward officials.
"The girl’s mother first reported the case to the ward’s community leader Thein Htun but he told her to keep her mouth shut about it and that he would give him a warning in the next morning," said the neighbour.
Locals in the ward speculated that the man had escaped more severe punishment by bribing the police as he from a wealthy family.
Deputy police chief Thein Htun of Bago police station 3, who is not related to ward community leader Thein Htun, said the case had only been filed as a criminal assault as they had not yet collected enough evidence to pursue a rape charge.
"Right now we can only file a criminal assault case under section 354 of the penal code but we can change it later according to legal procedures," said deputy police chief Thein Htun.
"We did not take any bribe from that guy, we are just following the regulations."
The girl's neighbour said deputy police chief Thein Htun had also visited the girl's uncles and tried to persuade them to drop the case, claiming it was a minor matter.
A charge of criminal assault against a woman's modesty carries a two-year penalty, while an attempted rape conviction is likely to result in a sentence of at least seven years.
Reporting by Aye Nai