Besides increased awareness, most domestic violence cases are resolved at the gewog level resulting in less reporting

Community: Cases related to domestic violence are steadily decreasing in Trashigang according to records with the Royal Bhutan Police.

After a sharp increase of 25 domestic violence cases in 2013, the numbers halved to 12 in 2014 and seven cases until this year. Samkhar gewog tops the list with 12 cases reported in the past three years while Radhi and Bartsham gewogs reported none.

However, more than 60 percent of domestic violence cases go unreported primarily because the gewog administration resolves most cases within themselves and some victims don’t approach the police out of fear of their spouses.

Local leaders also affirmed that domestic violence cases have gone down compared to the past. Shongphu gup, Kinzang Wangdi said such cases have dropped by almost 30 percent in the last five years.

“We try to resolve domestic issues within the gewog save for the violent cases, which we report to police,” he said. “In doing so, there are less chances of couples getting divorced.”

Samkhar gup, Sonam Dorji attributed the decline to awareness programs that have today reached even the most remote pockets in the dzongkhag.

“Now, a lot of people understand the consequences and awareness activities have immensely contributed to the reduction of such cases in villages,” he said. “Consumption of alcohol, one root cause of domestic violence, has also gone down after it was banned during festivals and funerals.”

Recently, the Young Volunteers In Action (YVIA) from Sherubtse College has taken up an initiative to advocate Trashigang villagers on the ill effects of alcohol, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy.

Coordinator Tenzin Wangchuk, a B.Sc. Life Science final year student, said the group is dedicated towards participating and volunteering for the benefit of the society through various social service activities.

“A study carried out by the National Commission for Women and Children states that one major factor that leads to domestic violence is alcohol. Other risk factors include substance abuse by children,” he said.

Since alcohol consumption, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy are interconnected, Tenzin said the objective of YVIA campaign was to make people aware of the consequences of these issues.

“We are educating people through demonstrations, dramas and other cultural activities,” he said. “We have already visited Khaling and Ritsangdung and our next destination is Rangjung,” he said.

The group members have also dedicated their leisure time to teach basic education to villagers by establishing a Non-Formal Education (NFE) center in the college premises.

“People who missed the opportunity to study in schools remain in village where they do all the farm works, raise kids, and repeat the same over and over again,” Tenzin Wangchuk said. “In doing so we see a lots of problems related to domestic violence and teenage pregnancy among others, arising from these villages.”

Funded by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, 70 students are participating in the YVIA awareness campaign under the Youth Initiative for Better Society project.

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang