RENEW has “secret shelter” for domestic violence victims

Within the last two months, 32 cases of domestic violence cases were reported in the capital: 12 cases of battery; 12 cases of willful negligence; one extra marital affair; and seven other cases under different categories.

Records with RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women) show that cases of domestic violence are increasing with a total of 1,141 cases reported till now in the country.

RENEW has been operating since 2004 but initially no one turned up to register cases. The following year only three cases came to the organization; gradually the number increased to 20, then 60 and later 152. Since then, it has been seeing a growing number of complaints.

The head of Community Outreach Unit of RENEW, Meenakshi Rai, said that the cause for this increased influx of cases could be growing awareness among women who are victims of domestic violence.

“This issue was there for many years but it was under reported,”she said, “but now women know there is support for them.”

She added that such cases mainly occur between intimate partners and the main cause was illicit affairs. According to her, the victims who approached RENEW had suffered “a minimum of three years and maximum of fourteen years.”

The Community Based Support System team which forms the voluntary network of RENEW comprises people from different walks of life such as teachers, civil servants and community people from across 20 dzongkhags. These volunteers have an annual meeting every year in the capital where they try to create awareness about domestic violence and other crimes perpetuated on women.

Renew, Meenakshi Rai said had a shelter for such victims but “it’s an anonymous place in Thimphu”.

Since such cases are also reported to National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), RENEW does not have the actual statistics since the cases are forwarded to Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU).

According WCPU statistics, around 19 cases were reported to the unit this year as of Feb 29. Last year figures show 244 cases. Cases registered in a month were not less than 12.

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