Posted on July 25, 2011

Child Sex Case Cultural Defence

Adrian Lowe, The Age (Victoria), July 22, 2011

Cultural factors have been used to defend a man who sexually abused a primary school girl for three years until she became pregnant.

The girl, 11, was in grade 6 when she gave birth to a boy last year via caesarean section when she was six months pregnant. She is believed to be one of the youngest people to give birth in Victoria.

She said in a victim impact statement her abuser, whom she called “uncle” because of his closeness to her family, had “wrecked” her life and she no longer had any friends.

The man, 30, who can be identified only by his first name, Douangta, and his victim belong to an ethnic minority that cannot be identified, to protect the girl’s identity.

Defence counsel Simon Moglia said Douangta had spent much of his early life in a refugee camp and retained many of his early cultural influences. In his native culture, men had been known to take child brides.

Mr Moglia said his client’s intention was “to have a relationship. There’s no avoiding it.”

Douangta told the Department of Human Services after he was arrested that he “fell in love with her and wanted to protect her as a husband”.

The girl, now 12, said in her statement: “I don’t know how to have a baby. I’m just a little girl and I was not meant to do this stuff. I trusted my uncle. Why did he do this to me?”

The girl said she was “shocked and scared” on realising she was pregnant. “I don’t ever want to have a boyfriend, get married or have another baby.”

The County Court heard she texted her abuser and asked: “Do you have any help for me I really pregnant?”

The parents of the girl told in a victim impact statement of having to undergo a lengthy cultural cleansing ceremony to rid “evil spirits” from their lives, which also involved changing the girl’s name. The girl and her parents migrated to Australia less than 10 years ago and Douangta helped them settle. Douangta pleaded guilty to one charge of persistent sexual abuse of a child under 16 and one charge of child stealing.

Prosecutor Andrew Grant said Douangta told police he did not tell the girl’s parents about taking her to see a doctor just before she gave birth because “they were really tough parents”.

Mr Moglia conceded the conduct of his client was degrading to the girl, but said no other elements of degradation were present.

Judge Lisa Hannan will sentence Douangta today.