Yangyel Lhaden

Five women in Thimphu fell victim to gender-based violence (GBV) in the past eight  days of the second nationwide lockdown, according to Respect Educate Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW).

Two victims of GBV moved into the temporary home established by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen.

RENEW is soon going to start compiling records of GBV cases from the dzongkhags once every three days.

RENEW counsellors have also received few emotional abuse cases which were counselled and referred to relevant agencies.

The multi-sectoral task force (MSTF) under Ministry of Health and community-based support system (CBSS) with RENEW in 19 dzongkhags have established temporary shelter homes for emergency support services.

Meenakshi Rai (PhD) from RENEW said that during the second lockdown Royal interventions provided by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen was a timely intervention which informed the people in advance on the services provided for survivors of domestic violence.

She said that with no temporary shelter homes in most dzongkhags during the first lockdown created many challenges to the service providers. There was 345 GBV cases in the country during the first lockdown.

The victims can call CBSS focal persons of respective dzongkhags for support.

Meenakshi Rai (PhD) said that though services were enhanced and readily available, the greatest worry was how accessible our services were to the victims.

“Most of our clients are dependent on their partner and we are not sure how many of them have access to mobile phones and information about the services,” she said.

RENEW’s service providers are better prepared today to handle the domestic cases than the first lockdown with MSTF-CBSS volunteers in respective dzongkhags.

There are about 100 active CBSS volunteers and at least five active CBSS volunteers in each dzongkhag. The CBSS volunteers have been trained for safe referrals to different agencies for required services.

Meenakshi Rai said that it was important to understand there were different forms of GBV which were interrelated as one leads to the other. The various forms of GBV are physical violence, emotional violence, economic violence, and sexual violence.

She said that in most cases clients required immediate response and protection services with counselling and livelihood support. “The need for centres which provided services like Gawailing Happy Home centre became very evident after the experience from the first lockdown.”


Quick tips to  avail services

If an individual is at risk for violence, he or she should identify a trustworthy neighbour, friend, family or shelter to go to.

Neighbours should report with RENEW about domestic violence case in the vicinity.

Develop a code with a trusted neighbour so that they can intervene during an emergency.

One should always keep essential items such as mobile, identification documents, medicines, and telephone numbers in case of an emergency.

Any domestic violence victim can call 1010 or CBSS focal persons immediately.