Stakeholders discuss and debate violence against children
Atwo-day consultation meeting on the violence against children in Thimphu on 20 and 21 October discussed a number of issues related to violence committed against children.
The participants discussed and reviewed the report of research on violence against children in our country carried out by National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC). The report pre- sents three types of violence against children, namely physical, sexual and emotional violence.
The report shows that 6 out of 10 children (64 percent) aged between 13-17 years experienced physical violence at least once in their lifetime. Boys are seen to be more prone to physical violence compared to girls. Schools and homes are the most prominent places where children experience maximum violence.
The director of NCWC, Kunzang Lhamu, said, “Corporal punishments in homes and schools need to be looked into.”
The survey report also states that 12.8 percent of children experience sexual violence once in their lifetime. A larger proportion of girls (13.5 percent) experience sexual violence compared to boys (11.9 percent). Most of the sexual violence takes place in schools with the touching being the highest type of violence related to sexual harassment.
The minister for Works and Human Settlement and the chair of NCWC, Lyonpo Dorji Choden, said, “Violence is shaped by our culture.” Minor children’s rape is perpetrated by the people known to the victim, Lyonpo added.
Access to the internet has increased the exposure to digital pornography among the children. 41.7 percent of boys have seen pornography films compared to 28.7 percent of girls. Home has been the place where children are exposed to such films.
The research shows that lack of love is the most important type of emotional violence experienced by the children.
Misuse of alcohol is one of the drivers of violence against children. If people who hold the responsibility to care the children takes alcohol, than they harm the chil-
dren leading to physical and emotional violence.
Economic status also promotes violence. The study shows that children belonging to poor family background are seen more exposed to violence and thus leading to children dropping school and working to earn money for the family.
Divorce is seen as the most significant risk factor that leads to violence. As per the study participants, step parents consider step children as additional financial burden and often show favoritism for their biological children.
Children with low learning skills or nonacademic children are more vulnerable to violence by teachers. Children with physical and mental disability cannot defend themselves, so they have more vulnerability of violence. Similarly girls with disabilities are more likely to be at risk of sexual violence.
Social norms and tradi- tional practices are other drivers that increase the children’s vulnerability to violence.
The judiciary and the police are the last resort to record the violence, said Pema Dechen from Phuntsholing Dungkhag Court.
One of the youth participants suggested that an anti- bullying day be instituted in schools.
The research was carried out in three phase– literature review, qualitative assessment, and quantitative survey over a period of three years.
The consultation meeting was conducted with an objective to discuss and share the research findings on violence against children with the stakeholders. It was also aimed to discuss, review and get recommendations on the violence against children research in order to incorporate and implement into the National strategy and National Plan of Action for Children protection.
The meeting was attended by participants from the government, Civil Society Organizations, media, UNICEF, Royal Bhutan Police, the judiciary, and Dratshang Lhentshog, among others.