Maoist cult leader 'used mind control to psychologically strip victim who he raped and forced to perform degrading sex acts'

Mail, UK/November 16, 2015

By Steph Cockroft

A Maoist cult leader allegedly groomed and raped a follower after forcing her to keep explicit sex diaries which he shared with the rest of his sect in a bid to 'humiliate' her, a court has heard.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, known as Comrade Bala, is said to have 'psychologically stripped' the woman while she was a member of his far-left group in Brixton, south London, in the late 1970s.

He is accused of forcing her to keep an 'extremely explicit' sex diary while repeatedly abusing her in pre-arranged sessions during which she was forced to perform degrading sex acts.

Today, the woman told the jury how Balakrishnan had treated the women 'like animals' and that he had 'taken over her mind'.

But she said she never told Balakrishnan to stop the abuse because she thought the treatment meant she was 'being taken up a level in the revolution'.

Fighting back tears from behind a screen, she told the jury: 'He already manacled you, your own sense of thought or control had gone.'

She then added: 'I know he is there (in the dock) and I want him to hear it because I loathe him so much. You must know that - how much I despise him.' 

Southwark Crown Court heard how the alleged victim had first met Balakarishnan at a demonstration when she was 23. She soon became entranced by him and joined his 'Worker's Institute', which was based in various addresses around the area.

Her brother - who also lived the commune for some time - also joined the cult after spotting one of Balakrishnan's pamphlets on a notice board, the jury was told.

The court heard how the alleged abuse began while Balakrishnan's wife Chandra was in hospital in a diabetic coma.

She recalled being invited into his bedroom for the first time ever and told how Balakarishnan allegedly began rubbing his unshaven chin hard into her face, leaving it red raw.

'I felt I was being taken up a level in the revolution,' she told the jury. 'Although one didn't like it, it was almost like something that one had to go through.

'His authority was so complete, you never thought about resisting and saying "I don't want to go in, I don't want this to happen". We were like animals, we were like animals being trained.

'You couldn't rebel. It was seen as part of your training, as part of being a revolutionary soldier.'

She added: 'I thought it was a special relationship that might get me off of some of the criticism.'

The woman told the court how she then saw red marks appearing on the chins of other women in the collective, from which she realised they were all being put through the same treatment.

She also described how she was given a time slot to go into his bedroom where she would perform degrading sex acts upon him as he sat on the sofa.

During her testimony, the woman was asked by prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC if she ever refused to take part in the sex acts. But the witness told the court how she was unable to because of his control.

The woman alleged that Balakrishnan demanded that the explicit diary also include her imagining having sex with him.

She also said he wanted her to write about imagining performing an extreme sex act, which she refused to do.

'The writing had to be extremely explicit. Initially he said it would just be between him and you, but then he would use excerpts of it to humiliate you in front of the others,' she said.

'You were just humiliated, you were just psychologically stripped, you couldn't say 'you said you'd never say that' it just gave you the sense he had absolute control over your body and your mind.'

'It was like he had the right over your mind, your body, everything, he would say he had the right to let you breathe, because if he put a finger on your neck and he would make you die,' she said. 

'There was no sign of affection, it was only physical and he would then use it to criticise you even more viciously. No sign of affection, love, you were merely someone who had to be subjugated.' 

She described to the jury how he instilled fear into his commune, convincing followers they were surrounded by 'fascist agents' and making them inform on each other.

She said Balakrishnan reminded her 'of Pol Pot or Stalin', because of the way that he said his followers were there voluntarily, yet he used violent force to prevent them leaving.

She added: 'I believed that he could kill us and that no-one would know. The others would cover it up.'

The woman told the court it was only going out to work which allowed her to keep her 'sanity'.  

'I know he is there (in the dock) and I want him to hear it because I loathe him so much. You must know that - how much I despise him,' she said. 

She said he told her she was not becoming pregnant by him because she was 'impure' and lacked commitment to 'the party'.

The court heard how the alleged victim escaped the cult until 1989, but did not speak about the alleged abuse until she went to the police in 2013.

Over the years, a few other members managed to leave the cult, while one died in 1997, but Balakrishnan was not arrested until the final member escaped in 2013.

She was frequently beaten, and taught to worship her father - whom she only knew as Comrade Bala - as if he were a god. 

The witness describe how she and her brother had become estranged before he left the cult in 1980 because they would be accused by Bala of forming an 'anti-party clique' if they ever tried to speak to one another.

She said that Balakrishnan was cruel and abusive to her brother as his mental health deteriorated and it became clear he was becoming schizophrenic.

'He wasn't well, by this time he was quite paranoid and Bala by this time was talking about satellite warfare and voices - he was the controller and he would decide who could hear the voices and who couldn't. He interpreted the whole world.

'You were not allowed to ask questions, you just had to take his word for it because if you did ask questions it was because the British Fascist State was going into your brain and causing you to doubt and doubt was not allowed.

'My brother was developing schizophrenia, and the pressure we were under was so stressful and he was finding it difficult to cope.'

When her family tried to persuade her to leave, Balakrishnan brainwashed her into believing they were fascist agents, the court heard.

Defending, Adam Wiseman, pointed out to the woman that other people had successfully left the commune, and that she left every day to go to work, before coming back.

She agreed with his suggestion that she had been 'flighty', 'unstable' and 'impulsive' before she had joined the group and had worked hard for it once in.

On one occasion when she wanted to leave, she said, he and other followers beat her so badly she was off work for three weeks.

Balakrishnan, of Enfield, north London, denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s.

He also denies three counts of actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under 16 and false imprisonment. None of his alleged victims can be named for legal reasons.

The trial continues.  

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