The father of a 12-year-old girl and three of his neighbours have been arrested by the Coimbatore police for allegedly raping her.
The alleged sexual assault came to light after the girl, a school dropout, reportedly alerted a school teacher who lived nearby. The teacher then informed the local child help line.
The police have filed a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence; they say they are waiting for the result of the medical examination to take the case forward.
Uma Devi, a member of the Child Welfare Committee who has talked to the girl, said, "She suffers from mental disability as she gives contradictory statements. Based on the medical report, we will decide whether she has been raped."
Vidya Reddy, director of the Tulir-Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, expressed concern that such an approach would "dilute the case".
"It's the victim's deposition and cross-examination during trial that's crucial, for which investigators have to start collecting other evidence. Traumatised victims can't be expected to give clear logical answers in one go. Some speak up, some don't and some take time. Statistics reveal only 12 per cent of victims disclose (the incident) clearly," she said.
The district unit of the Child Welfare Committee is scheduled to take up the case on Tuesday.