Juvenile delinquents in the study said the rape law was unfair to men
NSB: More than half of the 2,321 crimes that youth committed over the last two years in the country were due to peer pressure, a National Statistical Bureau’s (NSB) qualitative data analysis reveals.
Of the crimes committed between July 2012 and July 2014 by the youth, 15 percent (249) were committed because of poverty and almost 10 percent were committed due to unemployment.
Lack of education, family conditions and physical environment were other factors that led youth to commit various crimes, the analysis found.
The findings were shared during a dissemination forum yesterday in Thimphu. This is the first such qualitative analysis on youth, crime and mental health that’s carried out in the country.
NSB’s deputy chief research officer Lham Dorji said, everyone accepted that family disruption, unemployment, peer pressure and poverty were causes of crime but there was no evidence to prove it until this analytical study.
Offence related to controlled and other harmful substances were found to be the most common recorded crime among the youth. Assault, battery, followed by larceny, robbery and armed robbery was reported to be the third most common offence for young people.
He said all youth crimes and causes have linkages with one another. “For instance substance abuse was a cause for mental health problem among youth, while it was also a cause of crime,” he said.
Youth crime, according to the findings, increases steadily until the age of 19. However, not all adolescents (10-19 years) have the same propensity to commit crime, but their likelihood of committing a crime increases during their entire adolescence.
It was found that only 113 of the registered offenses were committed by female youth.
In Thimphu alone, more than one in every two crimes between 2008-2011 was committed by a youth of 18 and 25 years. Most youth offenders, 800 of them had no formal education while less than 17 were in college or had a college degree. About 150 of the youth criminals had secondary level of education and 192 had primary schooling.
NSB took data from Youth Delinquent Monitoring System (YDMS) and Crime data of the Royal Bhutan Police for the analysis.
For an in-depth analysis on cause of crime, NSB conducted a sample survey on 44 juvenile delinquents at Chamgang prison and Youth Development Rehabilitation Centre in Tshimasham.
Many of the juvenile delinquents according to the study, criticised the criminal justice system in the country for not being able to deliver justice.
“They talked about bias and discrimination in terms of dispensing objective decision; one law that most of them mentioned about was rape law,” the study findings states. “They were not against the law, but feel that it is biased towards girls and women, and that it should adopt to international standards.”
On nature of sex and offence, 62 percent of the young prisoners said it was consensual sex but they ended up in prison while another 23 percent said girls were responsible for the rape. Fifteen percent said they were not aware of the laws.
“The law is in favor of girls; they are not charged and punished even when they have a big role in influencing boys to have sexual relationship with them,” one of the inmates had said during the survey. “Boys are most of the time innocent, but law is such that they are made responsible for the consensual sexual act.”
Meanwhile, a majority of them suggested that government should crack down on drug-peddlers for crime rate to decline.
Rehabilitation for youth, frequent crime and law awareness programs, intensive counseling for youth at risks, creating employment opportunities for dropouts and parental education on proper parenting were also recommended.
The United Nations Populations Fund funded the research.
By Nirmala Pokhrel