Communist cult leader ‘imprisoned daughter’ – BBC News

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Image caption Aravindan Balakrishnan was described in court as a charismatic man who brainwashed followers

The leader of a communist cult effectively imprisoned his own daughter for 30 years and carried out a “brutal” campaign of “sexual degradation” against followers, a court has heard.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, of Enfield, convinced female followers he was “all-powerful and all-seeing”, Southwark Crown Court was told.

He denies charges including four counts of rape and seven of indecent assault.

Jurors also heard Mr Balakrishnan’s daughter “barely left the house”.

‘Calculated manipulation’

Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC told the court that, in his youth, Mr Balakrishnan was a charismatic man who brainwashed his followers.

“This case concerns the brutal and calculated manipulation by one man, this defendant, to subjugate women under his control.

“In order to bend them to his will, he used mental and physical dominance and violence, sexual degradation and, in relation to one, his daughter, he controlled every sphere of her life to the extent that she was unable either emotionally or physically to leave his influence until she was 30 years old and was in fact very ill with diabetes.”

The court heard that in the 1970s Mr Balakrishnan was at the helm of a communist group known as the Workers Institute, based in Acre Lane in Brixton, south London.

Beguiled by his charisma and radical politics, a number of people became his followers, jurors heard.

But as time went by his political influence “waned” and the group dwindled until just a small number of women were left.

Ms Cottage said: “The atmosphere within the collective was controlled by the defendant and his moods. Each woman lived a life of violence, fear, isolation and confinement.”

‘Beaten and separated’

His daughter was born into the collective and “had no independent life” at all, the court heard.

Ms Cottage said: “She was bullied, beaten and separated from the world.

“She never went to school, she never played with a friend, she never saw a doctor or a dentist. She barely left the house.

“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. She tried once.”

Another woman joined the Workers Institute to make friends, jurors heard.

Over time she was made to give all her money to the collective and was regularly beaten by Mr Balakrishnan, it is alleged.

Jurors heard that when she went to work she did not realise she had bruises because there were no mirrors in the collective, and by the time she left she felt “less than a person”.

The defendant had sexually assaulted her and she “scrubbed herself to try to take every trace of him away”, the court heard.

Mr Balakrishnan also denies three counts of actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under the age of 16 and false imprisonment.

The trial continues.

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