By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - A Maoist cult leader beat and sexually brainwashed female followers and imprisoned his own daughter in homes across south London for more than 30 years, British prosecutors said on Thursday.
Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, used fear, sexual degradation and physical and mental violence to keep the women under his control, turning his commune based on Communist teachings into his own personal cult, London's Southwark Crown Court was told.
Even his own daughter, who was born to one of the women in the collective, was bullied and beaten, barely allowed to leave the house, never permitted to go to school, play with friends or see a doctor. She finally escaped aged 30 and suffering from diabetes, the court heard.
Balakrishnan, a small, gray-haired bespectacled figure, denies 16 charges of cruelty to a child, false imprisonment, indecent assault, rape and assault.
"This case concerns the brutal and calculated manipulation by one man to subjugate women under his control," said prosecutor Rosina Cottage.
Balakrishnan was the head of a Communist group in the 1970s called the Worker's League in south London, a charismatic and energetic speaker who attracted students and followers with his plan for world revolution and to overthrow what he saw as Britain's fascist state.
Cottage said he made himself its Party Secretary and the collective's members were only allowed to recognize the authority of Balakrishnan, or Bala as he was known, and Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.
Over time the group's numbers waned, the men left and the Communist commune evolved into "a cult of Bala", the prosecutor said.
"One was his wife Chandra, but she and the others had all been so dominated and brainwashed to the extent that they believed that he was all powerful and all-seeing," she told the jury.
"Each woman lived a life of violence, fear, isolation and confinement. 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."
The trial continues.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)