A local court in Mumbai, Maharashtra, has granted bail to a 23-year-old man in connection with the rape of a minor girl saying he suffered from “Peter Pan Syndrome” — a term used to describe an adult who is socially immature.
The man allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl but special judge SC Jadhav on Monday granted him bail on a bond of Rs 25000 (£241) and several other conditions, news agency Press Trust of India reported.
The man’s lawyer Sunil Pandey told the court that his client suffered from something known as the “Peter Pan Syndrome.” He also told the court that the rape survivor’s family knew about their relationship. “But, her family didn’t like their relationship due to the boy’s illness and poor background. They also had a grudge against his family members,” Mr Pandey said.
India Today reported that the lawyer further told the court that the girl had the “knowledge of what she was doing and got into the relationship voluntarily.”
Maanwi Sharma, a Gurgaon-based clinical psychologist, told India Today that “Peter Pan Syndrome, in a layman’s language, can be called an ‘overgrown child.’ But it is far more complicated as people suffering from it can be insensitive towards others’ needs, doesn’t want to work or make concrete long-term plans and want to live for the moment.”
The term Peter Pan Syndrome was coined by psychologist Dan Kiley in his book, “Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up” — published in 1983 to explain the behaviour of men who “refuse to grow” and “behave their age.” Although Mr Kiley spoke mainly of men, experts believe this can be a behaviour pattern in other genders as well.
Ms Sharma said: “This syndrome can be confused with narcissistic or antisocial behaviour as they can’t express empathy and are impulsive in behaviour, and can be addicted to alcohol.”
She added that men with Peter Pan Syndrome can be “aggressive and can act in an inappropriate way. But they can be dealt well in a playful way to conduct their daily routine.”
Peter Pan Syndrome is neither listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a book by the American Psychiatric Association, nor recognised by the World Health Organisation.
However, the Bombay High Court accepted the argument of the defence counsel and granted bail to the rape accused stating that his detention will serve no purpose as the “probe into the matter is completed and nothing has to be recovered from him.”
The court also noted that the victim’s statement “prima facie shows she herself left her parents’ house and joined the company of the accused.” A woman reported a rape every 15 minutes on an average in 2018 In India, according to government data.