The recent spate of sexual harassments and rape cases, which has seen a significant rise in recent years, has jolted the conscience of the nation.
It also comes as a stark contrast to a country which is known globally for propagating happiness and Buddhist values of love and compassion.
The distressing news comes in the wake of increasing incidences of ghastly rapes that is being committed in our neighborhood, India. And, despite meting the highest punishments, including death, for rapists the number hasn’t gone down meaning perpetrators will continue to indulge no matter how tighter the law gets.
Despite giving the highest punishments, including the capital punishment, for rapists recent trends in the number of cases reported does not ensure any room for optimism. The situation also bears stark similarities with ours too as rape of minors, and crimes against women, continue to spike despite law enforcers clamping down on the crime.
If we remember, just about a year ago the nation was given a rude awakening when two minor girls, one in Paro and the other in Thimphu, were brutally raped and murdered. However, the scarier truth is that the perpetrators to these ghastly crimes are still at-large and the parents of the two minors still await justice.
Our law enforcers including the Royal Bhutan Police accord their highest priorities to saving women, children and weaker sections of the populace. However, despite their hard work and interventions crimes against women and minors still continues, and alarmingly, at a much heightened pace.
While the OAG and RBP has warned of the highest consequences for such perpetrators, the fact that we still continue to see rising numbers of such cases is caution enough that we have to change our approaches. While drafting harsher punishments could act as a deterrent, finding long-term solutions to such developments has become the need of the hour.
While socio-economic development and education, to a large extent, can play crucial roles in help addressing this social malice, there must be some graver truths that need to be taken into consideration. One early prevention method to counter this issue can be instilling values in our children.
In countries where poverty and social anarchy is more prominent, such crimes also seem to be high. In addition, early sex education should be encouraged in our schools as it can open up our youths into taking more informed decision.
Another key area could be addressing mental health issues among our citizens. With rapid socio-economic development the fissures between the haves and the have-nots have also widened, and the weaker and poorer sections of the community are more prone into indulging in such kinds of acts.
The government could identify these volatile sections of the community and perform targeted-alliances to help uplift these communities from the dangers they are potentially exposed to.
Studies conducted by experts suggest that drug-use, poverty and social anarchy were some of the biggest influencers that led to growing social malice like rape incidences.
Therefore, our law keepers and enforcers should work at identifying these vulnerable groups and help educate them on these social evils so that it can be prevented at the onset, and not only through stern sentencing and criminalizing these perpetrators.
Bhutan is a country that has become synonymous with happiness and peace. Let not these social evils rob us away of our peace-loving nature. Otherwise, we could all be staring at a future that is bleak for our daughters and mothers.
We just cannot wait and watch.