Physical violence against children common in Bhutan

Report: More than six out of 10 children aged between 13 to 17 years have experienced at least one incident of physical violence, a study on violence against children in Bhutan has found.

The report produced by the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), the government and UNICEF Bhutan in May 2016 stated that physical violence that caused bodily harm was inflicted by the use of physical force which included the use of weapons and by forcing children to withstand extraneous and excessive physical endurance.

The three-phased study, conducted over a period of three years, revealed that more than six percent of children sustained bruises, redness, swellings or sores on their body because of the violence.

The survey, conducted throughout the country by interviewing 3,272 children and youth also revealed that more girls sustained bodily injuries than boys.

It also revealed that some children suffered from broken bones, fainting, unconsciousness or long-term damage to an eye or ear, and suffered permanent scars.

It states that more children in rural areas experience physical violence before their teenage years than in urban areas.

The report states that the most common forms of physical violence is corporal punishment.

While 67.3 percent of children reported that they experienced physical violence at school, about 43 percent reported physical violence at home, meted out by parents, relatives and siblings.

The report also mentions that child monks reported being beaten by the Kudrung (discipline master) or other adult monks for committing offences, such as being late for prayers. “A teycha or yuelpam (leather whip) is sometimes used to beat child monks,” the report says.

It also states that a 2010 assessment of the situation of young monks and nuns found that corporal punishment conducted by an eleven-member expert committee found that corporal punishment was used as a last resort in around 10 percent of the monastic institutions. “Most monks were using alternative, non-violent forms of discipline,” the assessment had found.

In the second phase of the 2010 assessment, child monks reported being bullied by older students who punched, kicked or locked them in dark rooms. “Child nuns reported being lightly beaten by kudrungs or adult nuns.”

The report also stated that the focus group discussion while compiling the report revealed that children are subject to physical violence by employers.

It stated that young girls working as domestic maids, girls and boys working in local businesses and older girls working in drayangs or in the commercial sex trade were subject to physical violence.

Meanwhile, the report stated that alcohol, economic status, social norms and traditional practices, divorce, the extended family care system, disability and children performing poor academically are some of the reasons for such violence.

The report states that implementation of existing laws and policies, self-regulation and good parenting should prevent violence against children.

It states that the education ministry’s 11th annual education conference resolution to reinforce the ban on corporal punishment and issuance of a guide to the management of school discipline in 2011 needs further review and strengthening across the country.

Tashi Dema

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