Yangyel Lhaden 

With domestic violence cases on the rise, women with disabilities are suffering silently at homes with little or no support available for them, according to those who work with such individuals.

A resident councillor with RENEW said that only one woman with disability came to seek support in the last six months.

A person with blindness, Duptho Zangmo, said that there were women with disabilities who fought domestic violence silently. She said some of her friends shared their plight through online group chats.

“The service providers should be inclusive, accessible and advocate us on their services,” Duptho Zangmo said.

To reach out to the service providers the victims need assistance and in absence of help, they are not able to seek support, some advocates said.

Members of the Civil Society organizations, teachers of those with disabilities, government and private agencies, among others deliberated how to reach out support services to women with disabilities at two-day workshop in Thimphu that ended yesterday.

The participants’ action plan called for avenues for political participation, appointing focal persons in CSOs to advocate their roles and services to women with disabilities, awareness on media for accessible formats to persons with disabilities, and training key focal persons with sign languages, among others.

“Women with disabilities face myriad challenges for social inclusion and participation. Access to information and services are among the key challenges they face,” a participant said.

Chang gewog Mangmi, Sonam Zangmo said that women with disabilities also didn’t get to participate in decision making and gatherings at the village or gewog level.

Gross National Happiness Commission’s Chief Research Officer, Phuntsho Wangdi, said, “Person with disabilities need to exercise their own right and the barriers one creates upon themselves would create social exclusion.”

Bhutan Network for Empowering Women’s program officer Yeshi Wangmo said that it never occurred to them to create a separate initiative to advocate for women with disabilities about politics.

“We are service providers, the directive needs to come from the government,” Yeshi Wangmo said.

Executive Director of Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth, Deki Zam shared a story where a child with a disability was sexually abused and sexual education was important. “We give lessons on sexual education once every two months,” she said.

The disability policy has been on paper but its implementation has been slow according to Phuntsho Wangdi.

He said that there was no budget to implement the policy though some progress to implement special need school had been implemented in some dzongkhags.