The statistics show the cases of domestic violence against women in the country are on the rise. According to the records maintained with RENEW, a Civil Society Organisation that stands for Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women, more than 1,217 domestic violence cases have been reported from 2008 to 2012.
Taking Phuentshogling, the country’s commercial hub, as an example, in five years time from 2007 till 2011, 25 domestic violence cases were reported. However, the figure for such cases within 2012 till November this year already stands at 28.
As per last year’s study carried out by the National Commission for Women and Children, the prevalence rate of violence against women is 29 percent, of which the most common form is domestic violence.
The Minister of the Works and Human Settlement Ministry, Dorji Choden, said another alarming figure is from the Bhutan Multiple Indicator Survey 2010, which indicates the acceptance rate of violence against women is as high as 68 percent. “This is really worrisome and it calls for massive education, awareness and comprehensive support system including enabling legal environment and protection. The issue needs a holistic approach.”
According to RENEW officials, the increase in cases reported is an indication of women becoming aware of RENEW and also that domestic violence is not justified in any sense.
The increasing number, though worrying, has helped the organisation reach out to the victims and support them through their various programs.
Commenting on the issue, the United Nations’ Resident Coordinator, Christina Carlson said, though emphasis placed on women’s empowerment and gender equality in the 11th Five Year Plan by the government reflects national responsiveness to the emerging challenges, more needs to be done.
“Amongst rural women, 72 percent believe that a man is justified for beating his wife or partner for any one of these reasons- neglecting children, going out without telling him, arguing with him, refusing sex and burning food.”
Christina Carlson said the level of tolerance of domestic violence suggests that there is not yet a wide spread understanding of the link between women and girl’s personal security and dignity and the principles of Gross National Happiness.
She added that violence against women and children has become a global concern due to its immense human, social and economic costs, which destroys families, the community and the society at large.
According to RENEW, this year alone about 132 clients availed themselves of the RENEW shelter service. They said the most common form of domestic violence in the country is physical abuse or battery.