Records with the Royal Bhutan police reveal that cases of rape against minors have been increasing despite stricter laws.
In 2011, a total of 27 cases of rape against those below the age of 18 were recorded. The figure increased to 29 in 2012. The number further increased to 35 last year while this year, by the end of March, seven cases have been reported.
Even after the section 181 and 183 of the Penal Code of Bhutan being amended, the figure is still on the rise. The amended section 181 of Penal Code of Bhutan reads that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of statutory rape if the defendant engages in any act of sexual intercourse whatever its nature with a child below twelve years, or an incompetent person,
with or without knowledge of the other person being a child or incompetent person.
The offence of statutory rape shall be a felony of the first degree, according to the amended section 182. This means, a minimum of nine years and maximum of which shall be less than 15 years.
A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a child above the age of twelve years if the defendant commits any act of sexual intercourse against a child between the ages of twelve to eighteen years. However, consensual sex between children of sixteen years and above shall not be deemed to be rape, the amended section 183 reads.
Rape of a minor above 12 years is a second degree felony which means imprisonment of 9 years and less than 15 years as per the amended section of 184.
MP Lekey Dorji of Bardo – Trong Constituency who is also chairperson of the legislative committee said, “About the increasing trend of rape in Bhutan based on the police report, I think the penal provisions for rape are quite stern. I can suspect the mental soundness of those who engage in these very heinous crimes against minors.”
Also adding, he said, there might not be adequate dissemination of these tough provisions of the law to the rural populace if, most of these heinous crimes take place in rural areas.
“Government can facilitate create awareness through media and civil societies, and help heal the scars of our society wrought by these irresponsible acts,” MP added.
Doctor Pakila Drukpa, forensic specialist with the Thimphu Hospital said minors might be targeted as these victims are not so aware about their rights and also they are easy targets.
He also said a formal study on why minors are aimed by the culprits and understanding the physiological behavior has to be done.
Talking about the long term consequences of the victims who have been sexually assaulted, the doctor said victims would suffer from post traumatic stress disorder which means they will have nightmares and difficulty to sleep.
Regarding the offenders, doctor mentioned only few are abnormal to do such acts but again with no proper research being done it is difficult to comment on the behavior of the culprits.
Meanwhile, the Royal Bhutan Police are trying their best by creating awareness on sexual offence and recently the Chief of Police had visited the Paro College of Education where he talked to the trainees on offences against women.
With many cases of minors being sexually abused in rural areas, many people with whom The Bhutanese Newspaper spoke to said police along with NGOs and concerning agencies should educate rural people on laws concerning offence against women.