Royal Bhutan Police headquarters

RBP working on a Sex Offenders Registry

Pictures of convicted rapists to be made public from this year

The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has started work in setting up a Sex Offenders Registry where the information of convicted sex offenders will be registered and submitted to all police stations.

Colonel Pasang Dorji of Crime and Operations, RBP said that the system will enable them to have an online record of all sex offenders and this information will be shared with all police stations so that they can observe all registered offenders in their area.

It was also revealed that starting from 2022, once a rapist is convicted his image would be released by the RBP under the policy of naming and shaming, similar to what is currently being done for drug peddlers.

The Colonel said that the RBP is currently in the process of working on the registry. He said it will be similar to parole but something different. He said the the offender will be kept under observation to ensure that the person does not commit the same crime again.

However, Bhutan’s registry will be based on the country’s capability and practicality so that it can be applied to do the needful.

One example of the need for a registry of sexual offenders emerged after one attempted rape case and nine molestation cases in the Bjemina school by the Vice Principal Ugyen Wangchuk there.

The VP had been convicted of rape for five years in Trashigang in 2004 where he was a teacher and he had been released after serving a short time and paying Thrim Thue as he was charged under the older Thrimzhung Chenmo and not the Bhutan Penal Code. He had even been terminated by the Education Ministry.

When he applied for his job in the Bjemina school nobody knew about his background, and he got the job based on a recommendation letter from his previous Thimphu school, his clear NOC record and a certificate of having worked for the 2008 Coronation preparations.

In western countries, a registry of sex offenders is maintained and accessed by the police and depending on the severity of the crime the offenders are kept on the list and monitored by the law enforcement. Measures are also taken to ensure that the person does not have access to children or is in a position to re-offend again.

The RBP said it will also be forming a team to do an in house research study of the causes of rape which will be part of its rape prevention strategy.

The Colonel said that without knowing the causes it will be difficult to come up with a prevention strategy. He said the research is going to be very sensitive work and it needs the cooperation of even victims and their families and from society in general.

He said the issue needs to be tackled strategically.

The Colonel said that one thing that can be done is for potential victims to avoid certain vulnerable circumstances.

He gave the example of a recent Dechencholing case of attempted rape where a girl was talking on her phone and walking up a secluded path when someone grabbed her and pulled her away. Luckily the other person on the other end of the phone alerted the police and they could reach just in time, but the criminal fled away.

He said another example is in Babesa where three women had gone for dinner to a friend’s place and drank but one of them stayed back after informing her parents. She slept in the same room as her friend who attempted to have sex with her but she refused. He tried again despite her saying no the first time and so a case of attempted rape was lodged.

The Colonel said that people should be careful to take precautions while walking alone in secluded areas at night or ending up in certain situations where people can take advantage of them. 

In response to a question from the reporter, the Colonel also said that in most rape cases the rapist is known to the victim.

He said that it is difficult to come up with a rapist’s profile but there could be some features like alcoholism, drug addiction and conditions like peadophiles, those unable to control their urges etc.

At the same time, the Colonel in response to a question said that rapists could even be the so called ‘respectable people’ without any criminal history who could also be better at covering up things.

He said in certain cases, it could also be people who have an earlier history of sexual molestation.

The Colonel also said that socio-economic conditions like unemployment and poverty can also add to the problem as young men unable to get girl friends due to resource constraints and poverty can engage in such acts out of frustration.

In the case of rapists raping children, the Colonel said that these could be peadophiles who are mentally attracted to children in a sexual way. 

In 2021 there were a total of 75 rapes cases of which 57 cases were rape of a child above 12, eight cases were of statutory rape or rape of a child below 12, six cases of rape of a woman and four cases of rape of a married woman.

Literature available online, including on Wikipedia and Scholarly articles, on the causes of rape or sexual violence show a myriad of reasons.

Rape is more likely in a patriarchal society, a society where women are considered inferior, where women are objectified and their personhood is denied, where men feel entitled to get sex from women etc.

Rape also has to do with the personality type of rapists as research on convicted rapists show a common theme being anger at women and having the need to control or dominate them.

A study by Marshall et al. (2001) found that male rapists had less empathy toward women who had been sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant and more hostility toward women than non-sex-offenders and nonoffender males or females.

Evidence also suggests that sexual violence a learned behavior in some adults, especially regarding child sexual abuse. Studies on sexually abused boys have shown that around one in five later molest children themselves.

Studies show that the great majority of sexual violence actually occurs in the home of the victim or the abuser.

There is also a discussion of a rape culture where rape or sexual violence against women are normalized or even condoned and there is victim blaming.

The types of rape also may provide some clues with anger rape directed at debasing and hurting their victims, power rapists raping to compensate for their own inadequacies and a sense of entitlement regardless of the victim’s feelings and sadistic rapists who enjoy the pain of the victims and may even end up murdering them.

An inability to hold to account and prosecute rapists and a culture of secrecy over sexual crimes have also been widely discussed as causes.

In popular culture, the popular narrative of young men pursuing women and taking no as a yes and women being given the sole responsibility to fend of advances (even in advanced societies) also leads to a lot of rape including on college campuses in the West.

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