During the Question Hour Session in National Assembly, (NA), the Member of Parliament (MP) of Sangbaykha constituency, Dorjee Wangmo, informed the House of the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC)’s data on sexual assault cases from 2009-2020, which stated a woman or a child is sexually assaulted every week.
Of the 530 cases, 70 percent is rape of a child, and the crime takes place either at work places, schools or at home, despite passing strict laws by the Parliament.
She said, “There are various programs and agencies to protect our women and children, however, what concerns me more is the place of occurrence, and the reasons behind. I feel that if we are lacking in educating people on laws.”
Meanwhile, Khar-Yurung Constituency’s MP, Tshering Chhoden, shared that the study showed that 60 percent of victims are women and young girls, which is concerning.
She said, “Due to such incidences in the work place, the victims are prone to not only losing their jobs but also, they are vulnerable to depression and other social stigma. Incidents of harassment and physical abuse in the workplace have been increasing every year.”
In line to this, the MPs questioned the government on its initiatives and plans to prevent such incidences, and on how offices, schools and parents are failing to protect our women and children.
Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji said that no matter what the law says or how stringent the law is, people keep doing it. He said, “I am father of two daughters, and I am a doctor, myself, whereby I have come across such incidences. I, personally, feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to address this.”
Keeping a blindfold on such incidences and not reporting the crime immediately, given the fear of social stigma are few things that have been happening for a long time. Thereby, it has become important for everyone to report if they are to curb down on the crime rate.
Lyonpo further said that it is something they can overcome, but only if everyone takes their own share of responsibility. This is not a mandate of agencies or the government. It is everyone’s mandate to educate the people on law, and to show respect to women and children.
The House was informed that there are focal persons appointed in all the gewogs and dzongkhags to register and help with such incidences. The focal person takes the responsibility to investigate, report the incident and then rescue the victims, if needed.
“Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen has a concern over it, whereby, recently we have started the Pema Tewa. Though it was started as a mental health hospital, we will facilitate to support victims of sexual related offences. We hope to be focused and take every means to bring down the number,” Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji added.
Various awareness programs on sexual harassment and assaults crimes, and better reporting facilities can be the factors leading to the increasing number of cases.
Earlier, the sexual-related offences would have gone by unreported, given various factors, one in particular being the threat and unavailability of the services.
If more cases are reported and culprits are penalized, then it can act as a deterrent.
“The culprit might hesitate, whereby, the number of cases might ultimately go down. Various initiatives are being taken to curb down such crime. There are various laws to protect and address the issue,” he added.
There are also short animation clips being used to educate the people on sexual offences. There are also policies in place, but having to report the crime immediately is important and reporting the crime can bring down the crime, Lyonpo said.