If police record is anything to go by, law enforcers and social workers can draw some encouragement from the decreasing number of sexual offences. Last year saw a fall in sexual violence for the first time in four years. Though the drop in cases is not significant, the police, educational institutes and NGOs like the Respect Educate Nurture and Empower Women, RENEW and the National Commission for Women and Children, NCWC are working together to bring down the number of cases further in the future.
The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) records show that there were 92 sexual offences reported in 2019, which increased to 103 in 2020. The cases saw a further increase in 2021 at 130 before finally dropping to 112 last year.
Out of over 430 cases, the rape of a child above twelve years of age constitutes the highest number of cases with close to 180 incidents.
The RBP said that they are putting extra effort into educating the general public about sexual offences and their prevention.
They also added that to create a safe society, every individual must be responsible and must take part in bringing positive change.
The RBP say the decline is due to extensive awareness campaign and strict patrolling conducted across the country.
They also attribute the decrease to the efforts made by non-governmental organizations and educational institutes such as colleges and schools that assist in offering preventive measures, rehabilitation, and counselling services.
For instance, at Desi High School in Thimphu, starting this year, psychosocial counselling services are provided to the students.
With the service, the school saw an increase in many students coming forward to share their discomforts.
Moreover, day scholar students who do not feel safe at home are provided boarding facilities.
Lhamo, the school’s vice principal, said, “we always make it a point to talk to our students and educate them on any sexual violence and sex education. Those who feel safe, come to talk with the focal person to express their problems. We give them immediate help and if it is beyond our scope, we seek professional help from RENEW and NCWC.”
The RENEW conducts advocacy and sensitization programmes on reporting sexual violence regularly across the country.
Moreover, the organisation ensures that the victims are heard, believed and protected.
“The cases of victims come in two ways. They either come directly to seek our services or the police inform us. We provide counselling services, family counselling, legal services, and also, shelters to the victims,” Reenu Maya Mongar, a counsellor at the RENEW said.
RENEW encourages people to report such incidents immediately to guarantee prompt services from the agencies concerned. They urge people to report cases and seek their services through their helpline.
Meanwhile, the NCWC, which takes the lead in promoting and protecting women’s and children’s rights, also provides case management and psychological services to survivors of sexual violence. The commission also encourages people to seek their support through their toll-free helpline 1098.
Deki Lhazom/ Tashi Dekar
Edited by Kipchu
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