The National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) has received 20 cases this year so far pertaining to violence against women and children under difficult circumstances.
Six cases are registered under Violence Against Women (VAW) and 14 under Children-In Difficult Circumstances (CIDC).
Last year the commission received 61 cases of which 24 were registered under VAW and 37 cases under CIDC.
A commission official said they accept every case related to women and children but majority cases are children related because there is no other agency to take up children issues. Domestic Violence (DV) cases are registered with the commission but the numbers are minimal as there are other agencies to deal with it.
CIDC cases are assessed to see whether it needs direct intervention or coordination with other agencies to provide the service.
Services provided by the commission for children are seeking school admissions, giving legal advice and assistance, counseling and coordination with the CSOs to facilitate shelters. Cases of criminal nature are forwarded to RBP with for further investigation.
“We don’t have a shelter of our own but CSOs have been providing us the shelter whenever we request and the department of education has been supportive and give special consideration to those children to enroll in schools,” the official said. “We also refer the case to RENEW when our counselor is not here and they are helpful and supportive.”
Cases that are of criminal nature are forwarded to police. “No case will come to NCWC as a police case, for instance rape. It will come as a civil case but when we look in-depth some will be of criminal nature, which we direct to police for intervention,” he said. There are a few cases of abandonment where old age parents are abandoned by children and children abandoned by parents.
“During assessment if we feel that a child needs to be moved we can do so because as per the Child Care and Protection Act of Bhutan, we are only the competent authority,” he said.
The commission also gets cases where there is no detail of perpetrators, which makes it difficult to assess the case which remains pending for a long time. “Some women come to us and say that they have slept with a man and but they don’t have details of the person,” he said.
The commission also provides individual counseling, family counseling and peer counseling but it is difficult to reach all 20 dzongkhags. “Counseling is not a thing which can be done in a few hours, it is a long process whereby the client have to go step by step. So clients who are far away from capital have to travel long distance and we also cannot keep travelling around the country,” he said. “Therefore it is difficult to complete counseling for those who stay far from the capital.”
When it comes to individual counseling the official said that they cannot do everything in detail but they try and understand their issues and provide emotional support.
For family counseling he said that people come voluntarily and they counsel on how to handle issues and problems between husband and wife. “When it comes to children, we talk on parenting and how to handle their child,” he said. The time frame for counseling defers with each client but they try and conduct twice a week.
If the case is beyond their capacity, the commission finds someone with the required expertise.
“People have a misconception that counseling is advice, it is not because as per their code of ethics we are not allowed to give any advice or any solution,” he said. “If a client is given advice or solution they will be dependent on us and this is why we only facilitate them through which they learn and find solution themselves.”