RENEW building support system for victims of domestic violence

RENEW conducted a 3-day consensus building workshop in Thimphu for the second time. Officers from Royal Bhutan Police and RENEW CBSS volunteers attended the workshop that focused on domestic violence cases in the country.  According to RENEW, there is an increase in the number of domestic violence (DV) cases in the country this year.

As per the national health survey conducted in 2012, 74 percent of Bhutanese women accepted domestic violence as justifiable. Likewise, Bhutan Multi-Indicator Survey 2010 shows that 68 percent of women (aged 15-49), nationwide, accepted domestic violence.

In addition, 2013 report by NCWC, 20 percent of the women thought it is okay for a man to hit his wife if she does not complete household work to his satisfaction, 28 percent of the women felt a man can hit his wife if she disobeys him, and 62 percent of the women felt it is okay to hit a woman if the man finds out that she has been unfaithful to him.

The causes of DV often stem from economic dependence on husband, emotional dependence on husbands, stigma associated with divorce or separation, controlling behavior of husbands, high levels of acceptability and alcohol-induced violence.

Executive Director of RENEW, Tandin Wangmo, said that the main aims and objectives of the workshop are to have a proper and effective local mechanism in place for the survivors of domestic violence who need the services.

She also said that there are players in the local areas but they have been working in isolation so far. If they have been working together, it was only based on their personal networks and relationship.

“We want to create a formal network in place in the dzongkhags and communities whereby the survivor of the DV can get all the services that are available to them by just going to one person that they are most comfortable with, be it police or health worker or the volunteers,” she added.

It will be one network where they can avail themselves of all the services, she said. She said, “This kind of workshop will definitely help in bringing down DV related cases. We have created lot of awareness in the communities.”

Such awareness programs make people aware the existing of law enforces and service providers in place for DV survivors, the very fact that this people are there in the community is a deterring factor.

“Every year, the case on DV is getting higher and this year particularly is higher. I do not necessarily believe that DV in the country has gone higher. It has always been there but must have had happened behind the close door and it was never brought up in the public,” she added.

Now that many agencies are coming forward, people are getting aware on DV and getting less tolerance to DV cases. This could be the reason why the number is increasing, the Executive Director of RENEW said.

In addition, she also said that many people have the notion that RENEW is feminist organization. She said that RENEW is for the family and that includes the men.  In line with this, RENEW has received 149 men as victims of DV in 2018.

The male victims come mainly to find help with emotional abuse, where their wives are not giving them proper attention, threatening to walk out of the relationship, where wives are alcoholic and gamblers. “Males undergo emotional challenges while the women victims undergo a combination of physical, emotional, sexual and economic nature,” she added.

A RENEW study in 2017 shows that victims of DV don’t report the case to police due to reputation concerns and costs, investigation and social commentary might be very uncomfortable, blame the victim, risk of being abandoned by family & friends, desire to protect perpetrator and fear of never remarrying.

RENEW has been working close with the health ministry, RBP and volunteers to reduce the DV cases in the country and it has been creating awareness and providing service. “All the agencies have been supportive,” Tandin Wangmo said, “Everyone has to take a personal responsibility to ensure that their families are protected and nurtured but not beaten up and tortured.”

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