Beyond outrage

There is much outrage on a series of sexual assaults and crimes against young children and rightly so.

No civilized and decent society should tolerate such crimes and we should do everything in our collective power to not only catch and punish any such culprits but also put in place preventive measures.

However, it is also perhaps time for us take a deep and un-censored look at our own society which has no shortage of statistics in gruesome crime against children.

One thing that immediately comes to mind is the poor rate of prosecution of these crimes against children not only in terms of convictions but also in terms of sentencing due to mitigating circumstances or the offender having no past criminal records.

Here it is clear that our criminal investigation system needs better tools to get evidences and this is where a good lab comes in, which we currently don’t have.

On the prosecution front we need to again strengthen our legal capacity to ensure that children get justice.

As far as sentencing goes there is a need for tougher laws for such gruesome crimes and also a sensitization of the judiciary to apply the maximum punishment for such crimes.

A trickier self introspection is that the majority of crimes against children are committed by those known to them and this includes family members.

This may be a global norm but like elsewhere we have to see what aspects of our social attitudes and mores is encouraging such crimes.

It is also important for Bhutanese society to give up any hypocritical attitudes on the issue.

Our society is often shocked with the coverage of these crimes and there are usually two reactions. One is outrage but on the other hand the messenger is shot and there are instead questions on why such crimes should be covered in any prominence at all as it hurts the delicate Bhutanese sensibilities.

We have to give up the latter attitude which is hypocritical as it allows to pretend that we are special, and that we don’t have the same social problems as our neighboring countries.

We have to start with acknowledgement that we have a major problem on our hands.

What distresses me at times is that I meet a lot of people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, who still say they’re a victim of child abuse.
Dave Pelzer

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