National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) plays a major role in responding to Gender Based Violence (GBV), especially during lockdowns. This lockdown, NCWC received 18 cases related to GBV and child protection in two weeks’ time since 16 January 2022.
As per the record from NWCW, during the first lockdown, they received 70 calls on issues pertaining to GBV. 73 GBV cases were recorded during the second lockdown with 37 cases from Thimphu followed by 9 cases from Punakha.
NCWC has been operationalized and is responding to GBV and Child Protection issues since the announcement of the blackout period by the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO) with detection of COVID-19 cases from the community.
An official from NCWC said that when a call is lodged with NCWC through the toll free help line 1010, the victims are given counseling and shelter service when necessary. There is also online case management for the victim and additional services in collaboration with other service providers.
“Under the benevolent leadership of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, temporary shelters have been established in all dzongkhags to provide shelter and emergency support to the victims of domestic violence,” the official said.
He further said that even at the Local Government level, NCWC receives continued support from the Dzongkhag/ Thromde Women and Children Committees.
NCWC has Gender and Child Focal Persons (GCFP) in dzongkhags to respond and report on the GBV issues, including facilitating emergency services, and they have been ensuring continued support including case management, he added.
Though they are giving their best in responding to those issues, the commission has come across various challenges. “Shortage of human resources, lack of support to survivors from community, relatives and parents, and lack of cooperation from some of the survivors are some of the challenges,” he pointed out.
In addition, resorting to working from home protocol and restriction of the movement due to COVID-19 to break the chain of transmission of diseases has imposed several challenges, he added.
While taking up the case, he said that there was a case that required immediate medical intervention. Though the case was initially reported to the hospital, as it needed medical intervention, it was later forwarded to NCWC for psychological support.
To the survivor, NCWC has facilitated the shelter services and counselling support in collaboration with 1010.
He said, “We have received several cases where there was a threat from the perpetrators to the victims, and often do not provide the required emotional and economic support. Those cases were intervened in through the case management and continued counselling support in collaboration with relevant agencies.”
However, they have not received any heinous cases, which require immediate intervention from the RBP or any other agency, he further added.
Comparing to the cases reported to NCWC during the past lockdowns, the number of calls received pertaining to GBV this lockdown has reduced. This could be due to numerous initiatives introduced under the guidance of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, he said.
He said, “Under such benevolent leadership, services such as helpline, shelter, emergency medical needs, counselling and other immediate needs were established at national, regional and local level, which has really helped the survivors to seek timely services. This could be the reason for decline in number of cases.”