Yangyel Lhaden   

A non-governmental organisation, RENEW, and the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) recorded 36 cases of gender-based violence (GBV) against men during the second lockdown.

The cases with RENEW included physical, emotional and economical violence. There were also four cases, which were not gender-based violence but men who sought help.

RENEW recorded 16 GBV cases against men.

An official with the organisation said that men bear the violence fearing they might be stigmatised.

She said that RENEW was for victims of violence, which could be both men and women. “Women are more vulnerable to violence so we focus to empower them but men are also given the same services provided if they are victims of violence.”

A volunteer for RENEW’s community-based support system (CBSS) said that they identified a male victim after a woman registered a case against her husband. “During the counselling, we found out the husband was the victim.”

She said that some women thought RENEW was only for women and took advantage of it. “The husband didn’t know he could seek support from us.”

An official explained that there was no gender specification in Domestic Violence Prevention Act of Bhutan 2013 and it focused on victims. “We encourage men to come forward.”

Another CBSS focal said that men did not come forward to seek support because of stereotyping and ego. “There must be many unreported cases.”

He  explained in most cases, alcohol was the main cause of domestic violence. “Most men were victims of economical and emotional violence.”

One of the CBSS focal person said that a man, who was out of business during the lockdown, was emotionally abused by his wife when he could not support the family financially. “He and his daughter from previous marriage sought emergency shelter and the dzongkhag arranged intra-movement for him.”

In another case, an intoxicated wife physically abused her husband. The husband sought help from the toll-free number of the dzongkhag and the man was sent to his village through inter-dzongkhag movement facility.

RENEW officials said that they provided counselling to most victims. Some were separated from the abuser as they wished.

Meanwhile, NCWC recorded 22 cases of GBV against men.

An official with NCWC said that the data might have been duplicated, as a single victim might have called both the agencies.

(RENEW did not reveal the places where GBV occurred to protect victims’ identity)