New Community Service Centre Combats Gender-Based Violence in Zhemgang

In a decisive move to confront the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV), RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture, and Empower Women) has erected a beacon of hope in Zhemgang dzongkhag with the inauguration of a community service centre. Zhemgang, one of ten dzongkhags chosen as hosts for these vital centers, emerges as a battleground in the fight against GBV, registering 24 cases in the past year alone. The establishment of this centre echoes the urgent call to action in addressing GBV within our communities.

The decision to place a community service centre in Zhemgang was grounded in the stark reality of reported GBV incidents. A thorough feasibility study conducted by RENEW has underscored the pervasive nature of GBV in the region, emphasizing the critical need for intervention.

Following the successful pilot programs in Paro, Bumthang, and Tsirang, which addressed 243 cases in the first half of 2023, similar centers have been erected in Dagana, Gelephu, Samtse, Phuentsholing, Punakha, and Tashigang. These expansions aim to widen the accessibility of crucial support services for those affected by GBV throughout Bhutan.

The newly established community service centre stands as a sanctuary for GBV survivors, thoughtfully equipped with essential amenities to provide comfort and support. Since its inception in May 2023, the center has already intervened in three cases of emotional abuse, reaffirming the ongoing necessity of such facilities.

Zhemgang Dzongda Kesang Jigme emphasized the collaborative efforts required to combat GBV effectively. He highlighted the importance of working closely with local government leaders and stakeholders to ensure comprehensive support for survivors and those at risk.

UNICEF’s Deputy Regional Director for South Asia, Noala Skinner, lauded the center’s role in providing a safe haven for women and children while championing their rights. She stressed the significance of involving men and boys as allies in the fight against GBV, underscoring the importance of community-wide engagement.

The services offered by the center encompass a wide spectrum of support, ranging from counseling and legal aid to vocational training and healthcare assistance. These initiatives aim to empower individuals and families towards a brighter future, free from the shackles of violence.

Looking ahead, the center’s case manager, Karma Yangzom, reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to serving the community. Despite the challenges ahead, she expressed confidence in creating a better tomorrow with continued support from donors and stakeholders.

As the center currently operates within the confines of the National Housing Development Corporation Limited, plans are underway to secure a permanent space in a more suitable location in the coming years. This move aims to enhance service delivery and address logistical hurdles associated with reaching remote villages.

With a firm resolve and a collaborative spirit, Zhemgang is poised to lead the charge against GBV, setting a precedent for communities across Bhutan. As the nation marches towards a future free from gender-based violence, the community service center stands as a beacon of hope, offering solace and support to those in need.

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