To help clients access both formal and informal justice systems, a workshop on Consensus Building Programme (CBP), which is a response mechanism, required in helping clients who have experienced domestic violence began in Thimphu, yesterday.

CBP is a process of alternative-dispute resolution designed to suit the needs of people who need to avail services in a domestic violence dispute with key role-players being the CBSS volunteers, RBP, justice system, and local leaders.

UNDP Deputy resident representative, Niamh Collier-Smith, said that a national survey last year found that about 60 percent of children experienced some form of violence in their lifetime. “We need to talk about it and we need women and children to trust that when they report violence, officers and the system believe them.”

She said that there is a need of responsive and timely services to help prevent violence, and to support healing and recovery if prevention was not possible or successful.

One of the participants, Major Wangdi, said that the key challenge is stigmatisation. “In domestic violence, most of the cases go unreported. Therefore, there is a need to create awareness among people.”

He said that there was a lack of coordination among implementing agencies causing confusion and that clear delegation of responsibilities needed to be worked out.

Major Sonam Tobgay said that specific responsibilities would ensure that there is no duplication of responsibilities and how stakeholders can coordinate better. “Although there are policies, implementation is a problem here. This is one of the greatest fears.”

When it comes to the sustainability of the training, the one who undergoes the training and have the knowledge is subject to transfers, he said, which is inevitable.

Major Sangay Dorji said that there was lack of shelter homes. “Due to lack of facilities like safe houses, it becomes very difficult to carry out responsibility when dealing a domestic violence case.”

He said victim of domestic violence come to the police station with the hope that her husband or the perpetrator might be put behind the bars. “However, after some time, victims themselves come to us and request us to show compassion. We are in a situation where we cannot figure what to do exactly”

Bhutan National Legal Institute’s senior legal officer, Kinzang Chedup, said that the violation of dignity of a person was common in the four kinds of domestic violence. “It was found that rural women are more prone to domestic violence with 60 percent of women saying that it is acceptable.”

He said that violence was mostly seen from men to women. “Some of the causes are said to be due to patriarchal relations, silence and accepting attitude of women, financial dependency, difficulties at work, unemployment, level of education and respect, and disobedience among others.”

Respect Educate Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW)’s executive director, Tandin Wangmo, said that the first step was acknowledging that there is a lack of coordination among agencies.

She said that this was the first training for the OCs and depending on the workshop, training will be provided to police personnel in the future. “So, that CBSS and police are not the only ones working together but we have a chain where health workers and local leaders also work towards providing services to the victims of domestic violence.”

The workshop is expected to improve the coordination among stakeholders and to build their capacity.

RENEW in collaboration with Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSW Law) and Bhutan National Legal Institute (BNLI) are organising the workshop.

UNDP supported the programme.

About 25 police officers, five community-based support system (CBSS) volunteers, and relevant stakeholders are attending the three-day workshop.

Rinchen Zangmo