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The forgotten victims of domestic violence in Bhutan

Publication Date : 26-11-2012

 

It was quite a letdown this year's observation of international day for elimination of violence against women yesterday that was supposed to be marked with the launch of a study on violence against women in Bhutan.

While the day was observed anyway, ceremonially though, the study could not be launched in full, because it was incomplete.

That, notwithstanding, the significance of the day cannot be dampened, because, someone somewhere in one corner of a room of one of the homes on that very day, every day, continues to live in fear of violence.

The country might have made some strides, in terms of providing some service to Bhutanese women experiencing domestic violence, who basically had no place to turn in the past.

With National Commission for Women and Children being established, many women have found themselves a place to confide their worst fears that many of them would have been deprived of not so long ago.

That is evident from the numerous cases that are being lodged against such crimes.

Advocates for domestic abuse victims, a handful as they may be, including police officers and healthcare workers, do their bit to provide safety to women in abusive relationships, and holding those causing the harm accountable.

Unfortunately, there is more to the issue.

A majority of the focus on the matter, so far, has particularly been on those involved in violent relationships, mainly adults.

What about all those children exposed to such an environment, as to see their father batter their mother on a regular basis, and sometimes falling victims to such abusive parents, while trying to intervene?

Apparently, most of our programmes fall short, when it comes to engaging children on this issue.

Just as we believe, based on a popular Bhutanese maxim, our children will go on to repeat in their adulthood, what they learn today from how their parents conduct themselves at home.

Much before that, children raised in homes with domestic violence are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs.

Most youth, involved in some form of violence or the other, have experienced domestic violence as children.

Therefore, there is a need for stronger programmes to engage children coming from such homes, to show them what compelling future await them, despite their experiences today, which are but ephemeral.

Prevention is the word, and education again is the key to, at least, address, to some degree, this issue, by drumming into young minds the wrongs of domestic violence.

It would, however, be unfair to leave this social problem to teachers alone.

There simply is no room for gawkers, if we truly wish to clean our houses of this social ill, out of our little communities to begin with, and eventually from the society.

 

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