Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Police in Samtse are still investigating the recent rape case, where an eight-year-old girl was raped on June 10.

Samtse dzongkhag tshogdu thrizin (chairperson) Nima Dukpa said the entire people in Samtse are saddened by the news.

“We are also supporting the police,” he said. “We hope the police will arrest the culprit as soon as possible.”

The director of the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), Karma Drukpa, said they have a focal person in Samtse who is in touch with the victim and her family.

“From here, we have counsellors, who are in contact with the girl and her guardians,” he said.

He said that due to the pandemic and movement restrictions, counselling is done over the phone.

Karma Drukpa also said they are discussing how to prevent such incidents in the future.

“Office of Attorney General (OAG) would also fast-track such cases.”

RENEW’s director with programme and services department, Meenakshi Rai (PhD) said all possible help required would be provided if such cases come to their office.

“Right now, we haven’t got anything about what the child needs.”

She said police would also have their support system onboard. “If there is any need for other support, police will contact the RENEW office, and there has not been any contact as of now.”

Meanwhile, there is also a growing concern on how mainstream media should highlight such news, often considered sensitive to the victim and the families.

While timely dissemination of news and awareness to the general mass is needed, Bhutan is a close-knit society and there is a challenge of stigmatisation and trauma the victim and family would face.

Meenakshi Rai said while creating awareness, there is also the need to keep in mind the victim and the family’s dignity. “We have to keep in mind that we don’t reveal the school, gewog and the chiwog. Once these are revealed, people can narrow down.”

She, however, said there are positive impacts of awareness programmes. “People, young and old are coming to us. Even people who had problems a long time ago are coming for counselling. This is the difference we make after making a lot of awareness.” 

Karma Drukpa also said there is a need to “respect the sensitivity.”

He said while understanding the right to information, it is important to keep the victim and families when such news is broken, as it could mentally disturb them along with the victim.

The director also said they are planning to meet with the media fraternity and have dialogues in reporting such incidents.

After the rape went viral, hundreds of people expressed anger and frustration online.

The OAG even issued a press release in regards to the recent child molestation, rape of a child and other sexual related cases and growing concerns. OAG, in collaboration with the RBP, decided to fast track investigation and prosecution and pursue the highest criminal sanctions against the perpetrators.

Edited by Tashi Dema