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Not a safe year for women & children

Crimes against women and children made the most headlines in the dog year. Most of the crimes were reported in April.

Three days after the disturbing news of anesthesia technician who allegedly raped a patient attendant at the national referral hospital on April 5 night, the news of an arrest of a vice principal of a private charity school in Bjemina, Thimphu for allegedly molesting nine girl students aged between 11 and 15 years on April 11 raised public outrage.

The vice principal, who was also a mathematics teacher, was arrested on April 6 after a parent filed a written complaint against him to the police.

Condemning the two incidents, the former prime minister asked the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to investigate, prosecute and to hand the heaviest punishment.

Prime minister also asked OAG to relook into the security clearance guidelines. He said that no person indicted for rape, sexual harassment or molestation, especially of a child or a minor, should be given security clearance for a life for any kind of work.

Thimphu dzongkhag court on December 20 sentenced the vice principal to 10 years imprisonment.

Some of the heinous crimes in the dog year were against the vulnerable. In the same month, Phuentsholing police detained a school principal, a male teacher and a female sweeper of Sertena Primary School in Haa for allegedly throwing a newborn out of a hotel window in Phuentsholing on April 15 morning. The nation was gripped by shock and disbelief.

While Phuentsholing police charged the mother for voluntary manslaughter and statutory rape, the officiating principal and the teacher were charged for aiding and abetting. The case was forwarded to OAG.

The police traced the baby’s father, a 19-year-old class eight student from the locality. The woman was charged for statutory rape because the student was below the age of consent (18) when they started a physical relationship in 2016.

The dog year witnessed at least 11 cases of sexual assaults, child molestation and rape. The majority of the victims were minors, including an 11-year-old speech-impaired girl. Most of the alleged suspects were known or related to the victims – people who were expected to help and protect the reported victims.

According to cases reported with RENEW and those that were reported in the media, at least one case of child sexual abuse was reported a week with a total of 35 cases until November last year. Of the total cases reported to RENEW, the highest number of cases, 17, was from Gelephu.

On April 27, a 22-year-old Bhutanese woman living in Jaigaon, India was allegedly raped by a non-Bhutanese man in front of her sister around 5am on April 25. Jaigaon police arrested the suspect from the Super Market in Jaigaon on May 5, 10 days after the incident occurred.

The video of a man bullying another, which went viral on Facebook and WeChat on June 28, reminded people of the power of social media. The video showed 24-year-old slapping and making another boy kiss his shoes. Thimphu police arrested four men involved in the case.

On November 6, Paro police arrested 48-year-old man from Tsento for alleged smuggling of 43kg gold on October 30. Each gold biscuit weighed 1kg. Paro police arrested the man near Drugyel Dzong.

While the re-arrest of an escaped detainee after four years on July 5 showed that the police were vigilant, the dog year also reminded police to be more alert. On July 10, Thimphu police re-arrested a detainee who escaped from Thimphu dzongkhag court on June 19.

Trashigang police apprehended the two inmates on January 28, four days after the duo escaped from Lungzor prison. They were caught at Arong in Samdrupjongkhar.

According to records with the Royal Bhutan Police, a total of 1,188 people were arrested in the dog year for trafficking and abusing drugs.

Thimphu has the highest arrest record of 575, followed by Chukha with 217, Sarpang with 103, and Paro with 72. At least 70 people were arrested in Samdrupjongkhar, 52 in Punakha, 29 in Wangdue, and 28 in Samtse. Trongsa, Zhemgang and Gasa recorded zero in 2018.

Dechen Tshomo

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