A nine-year-old girl quietly confided to a judge that she was raped while sleeping on a footpath in Mumbai. Photo: Free Images

In a remarkable twist to a molestation case, the accused was found guilty of raping the victim and sentenced to seven years jail by a Mumbai court.

The nine-year-old victim, who is the daughter of a hearing- and speech-impaired woman living on the streets, testified in the special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act court against 49-year-old Mangi Sonkar, a fellow street resident.

She had not spoken about the rape to either the police or doctors due to the presence of males, stating only that she had been molested. The rape came to light only when the child, who was uncomfortable with the presence of the male defense lawyer in court, was asked by the judge to whisper in her ear.

“The victim has been brought up in a very insecure atmosphere. It is natural, impossible for a child who has been brought up in such conditions to depose before anyone and to disclose the fact of rape committed on her in presence of male person,” the Times of India quoted the judge as saying.

According to the report, the child was raped in 2014 when she was sleeping with her mother and sister on a footpath. One night, after everyone fell asleep, Sonkar, who had been sleeping with his family nearby, came over and raped her. Her mother filed a police complaint after the child woke her up and told her about the incident.