Nov 18, 2015

Aravindan Balakrishnan: Court hears Maoist cult leader 'raped female followers and imprisoned daughter for 30 years'

Paul Peachey
The Independent
November 12, 2015

The 75-year-old ruled over a band of women supporters in his south London communist collective 

Aravindan Balakrishnan
Aravindan Balakrishnan

A charismatic Maoist revolutionary raped female followers and imprisoned his own daughter for 30 years after brainwashing them into believing he was an all-powerful and all-seeing leader, a court heard today.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, ruled over a dwindling band of women supporters in his south London communist collective using threats and violence as he pursued his goal of overthrowing the “fascist state”, jurors were told.

His daughter – whose mother was another member of the collective - was beaten, bullied and rarely left the house with Mr Balakrishnan using her fear of the outside world to terrify her into submission, Southwark Crown Court heard.

She never went to school, played with a friend or saw a doctor during her childhood and the power that he held over her meant that she could not leave for the first three decades of her life, said Rosina Cottage QC, counsel for the prosecution. By the time that she left, she was ill with diabetes.

“She was hidden from the outside world, and it kept from her, except as a tool with which to terrify her into subjugation,” said Ms Cottage, opening the case for the prosecution.

“Her freedom of movement was restrained to the extent that even though she could have left physically, the power that the defendant exercised over her meant that she could never leave.”

Mr Balakrishnan, a charismatic and energetic speaker, was the organiser of a communist group in the 1970s based in Brixton, known as the Workers Institute, the court heard.

He is accused of raping and indecently assaulting two women members of the group, including one who was allegedly attacked seven times over a period of about 12 years from 1980.

“This case concerns the brutal and calculated manipulation by one man to subjugate women under his control,” said Ms Cottage. He bent them to his will using mental and physical dominance, violence and sexual degradation, she said.

The two victims of rape stayed in the collective too frightened to leave and hating to stay, said Ms Cottage. “They were forced into sexual acts over which they had no choice and were deliberately degrading and humiliating. He seemed to exult in his power over them.”

His following waned over the years and his collective was left with about six women after his domineering behaviour drove away members, the court heard. One that remained was his wife Chandra, but “she and the others had all been so dominated and brain-washed to the extent that they believed that he was all powerful and all-seeing”, said Ms Cottage.

The atmosphere in the collective was controlled by him and his moods, with every woman living a life of fear, violence, isolation and confinement, the court heard.

Mr Balakrishnan, of Latymer Road, Enfield, is also charged with child cruelty and false imprisonment of his own daughter. He denies the charges against him.

The case continues

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