Tashi Dema 

Thimphu police are investigating a case in which a 22-year-old woman has accused her supervisor of harassing her sexually.

The case was filed with police on September 13.

Although Thimphu police were not available for comment, it was learnt the case was registered and that police are investigating it. It was learnt that the investigative officer has changed, as the official initially assigned to the case was deployed for de-suup duty.

Sources said the police investigation has involved message retrieval from phones. “The case might be forwarded to court soon,” a source said.

The victim was not available for comment as police have collected her phone. However, Kuensel learnt that she became acquainted with the supervisor last year when she sought to apply for a scholarship at the Kuzoo office building in Thimphu.

She was 21 years old at the time, and working as a waitress.

Although she was a student with average grades, she wanted to continue her studies, and a scholarship was the only option because she comes from a broken family.

Since she did not have copies of her documents, she went to a nearby office to seek help. She not only got the documents photocopied but also met the accused, a supervisor at the office. According to the woman, he offered help, claiming that they were both dessup nymros as a reason for his good intentions.   

The woman did not get the scholarship, but got a job through the accused as an office assistant with the Royal Tutorial Project, where she said she was happy.

The happiness, however, was short-lived.

She alleged that a few months after she joined, the man in question started sharing dirty jokes with her, and touching her inappropriately. It was also alleged that he would grope her when she went to serve him tea.

When schools were closed because of the pandemic, the office engaged volunteer teachers to produce tutorial lessons, contributing to the e-learning programme. Throughout this time, the accused allegedly teased the victim and touched her inappropriately, then acted as if nothing had happened.

It was alleged that the main incident occurred on September 7 of this year, when the office assistant was writing a letter to her landlord to inform them about vacating her apartment. The officer called her inside his room. According to the allegations made against the man, he asked her when her contract would  end, inquired about her salary, reminded her that she got the job because of him, and how renewing the contract would depend on him.

It was alleged that even as he asked the questions, he closed the door and the window curtains, came closer and started touching her. The victim escaped with barely the time to take her handbag with her. That was the last time she visited the office.

It was alleged that the officer called her a day after the incident, asking her to come to the office to talk about it.

“When she refused his request, he came to her house, but she did not open the door and refused to answer his calls,” a source said. “He later sent her messages, saying he had come with a cake to apologise, and that he is a human being who made mistakes.”

The accused initially said he would issue a statement he had written about the incident and called it mere allegations, but later asked Kuensel to talk to the police, as the case has been registered with the police.

Meanwhile, the complainant has not returned to the office following the incident. The accused is still going to the office.