Bhutan News

    Punakha Moenlam Chenmo ends

    Posted 12 December 2018 | 10:10 am

    The Moenlam Chenmo in Punakha ended today. The prayer ceremony was presided over by His Holiness the Je Khenpo.

    It was held at the Thangzona and was attended by thousands of devotees, including monks and nuns, from all over the country.

    The prayer ceremony was Punakha’s third moenlam chenmo. The first one was first held in 2016.

    The moenlam chenmo this year was preceded by several other prayer ceremonies.


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    More women report domestic violence

    Posted 12 December 2018 | 9:59 am

    40-year old Tashi (name changed for privacy) suffered for 11 long years in an abusive marriage to an alcoholic husband. He wouldn’t come home until late into night and then beat her up, scaring their children.  

    “He was like that since we had our first child. I wanted to get a divorce. But he didn’t want that. He kept saying he will not repeat and we would make agreements but he would abide by it just for a month,” she said.

    Things changed for better only after Tashi took him to court.

    Tashi is among the hundreds, or perhaps, thousands other people, who survived abusive relationships or are enduring one.

    More than 500 women reported experiencing some form of domestic violence this year till November, according to the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and Respect Educate Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW).

    Of over 500 reported cases, 409 women, up from 395 cases last year, reported to RENEW.

    The NCWC’s Women and Child Helpline, launched in July, recorded the remaining 126 cases.

    The Executive Director of RENEW, Tandin Wangmo, thinks the increasing cases could be an indication of people becoming more aware of the legal provisions and protection and support systems available in the country.

    “Therefore, people are now being less tolerant towards domestic violence and reporting it,” she said.

    It is feared that a lot of cases go unreported, which means the actual number of women facing domestic violence could be much higher.

    “As we compiled all the research studies and statistics that were available until 2013, we found out that only about one per cent of the survivors reported to an NGO and as of now we know that RENEW is the only service provider for domestic violence,” RENEW’s Tandin Wangmo said.

    “Even if it was one per cent that has reported to us, a minimum of 3000 cases should be registered with us but like I mentioned until 2017 our numbers didn’t even reach 500. Only this year, by June, it crossed 500. So, there are a lot of unreported cases in the country.”

    RENEW says a lot of women chose to endure domestic violence instead of reporting it because of stigma around it. Some fear losing their husbands who are the family’s sole breadwinner.

    “There is shame around it. People start talking about you not doing well in the family, your family being abusive and breaking up. People don’t want to make these problems public. They want to resolve it among themselves as far as possible,” Tandin Wangmo said.

    Yeshey Lham is a Senior Counsellor with the NCWC. She says some tolerate for the sake of their children.

    “They say they have children, or that their husband is the breadwinner and that reporting would mean their husband being taken by the police or facing court.”

    RENEW and NCWC say women come seek help from them only when all other options have exhausted. They say Tashi’s case mirrors those of other domestic violence victims.

    “When they come here, they always come with an agreement that they previously made involving community elders, which looks very risky for the mediator as well,” NCWC’s Yeshey Lham said.

    “There are severe violence cases and the mediators would have brought both parties to a consensus through an agreement, but the violence doesn’t stop there. It happens once, twice and many more and the agreement doesn’t seem to work and that is when the women come to us.”

    While there are a host of other factors, power imbalance is seen as a major cause of domestic violence in Bhutanese homes.

    “The man is seen as the breadwinner, therefore, the decision maker and he decides what can be done in the family and the family members have to abide by his decisions. The moment he feels his power or decision is being challenged, his displeasure with it manifests in one or the other form of violence,” Tandin Wangmo said.

    While observing the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children couple of weeks ago, Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said it’s the men who are to be blamed for the increasing cases of domestic violence.

    He added the country’s laws and policies on such matters are stringent enough. What is lacking is personal commitment from men to end domestic violence.

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    Bhutan loses to Thailand in ongoing ICC U-19 cricket

    Posted 12 December 2018 | 9:59 am

    The Bhutanese under-19 cricket team lost their third match of the ongoing world cup qualifier Asia division 2 to Thailand today.

    The defeat means Bhutan has no hopes of reaching the semifinals.

    Bhutanese bowlers managed to restrict Thailand to just 60 runs but batting faltered again.

    Bhutan was bowled out for just 40 runs. Bhutan will play its penultimate group match against Qatar on Friday.

    Thailand is hosting the event with ten teams divided into two groups. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the semi-finals.

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