Her Majesty The Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck graces the inaugural of the first Community Service Center in Tsirang

A joint press release

13 August 2023
Two women unveil the signboard of the community center
Her Majesty The Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck inaugurates the RENEW community service center in Tsirang with UNICEF Bhutan Representative Andrea James.

Tsirang, August 13, 2023: Her Majesty The Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the Royal Patron of RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women), graced the inaugural ceremony of RENEW Community Service Center in Tsirang today.

Signifying a pioneering initiative of a Dzongkhag administration, the establishment of the center sets a significant milestone in bolstering access to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) services in Tsirang. Tsirang is among the districts with the highest reported cases of GBV. Since April 2022, 80 survivors of GBV have availed of services from the center. The center's construction concluded in March this year, funded with a budget of Nu. 4.01 million from the Royal Government of Bhutan. It is situated adjacent to Tsirang hospital in Damphu Throm (municipality).

RENEW’s Executive Director Tshering Dolkar said, “a service center in the community such as this is the need of the hour across all 20 districts,” adding that several need assessment and analysis have been conducted to understand the situation and strong recommendations have been made to address the social issues. “It is important to gear up with more effective mechanisms to bring the services closer to the community for easy accessibility.”

With support from UNICEF, the center has been equipped with essential facilities and two personnel to run its operations. The center stands as a hub, providing access to services for survivors of GBV. Core services like counseling, case management, legal assistance, emergency shelter and efficient referrals to crucial support and services are offered. Additionally, the center contributes to the empowerment of women and girls by providing training in livelihood skills.

Tsirang Dzongdag Sonam said, “It is essential to recognize the importance of empowering women, girls, and children to reach their full potential. This pioneering initiative showcases the successful -collaboration between the Tsirang Dzongkhag Administration, civil society organizations, and development partners in addressing critical social issues. It is hoped that this model will  serve as an inspiration for similar initiatives in other dzongkhags across Bhutan.”

This center is among the three that was established in 2022 in partnership with NCWC, RENEW and UNICEF.  By the end of this year, two more centers will be established in Samtse and Gelephu.

“The establishment of the community service center is a result of our strong partnership with the Royal Government of Bhutan towards addressing gender-based violence,” UNICEF Bhutan Representative Andrea James said. “The center is a commendable example of how communities can respond to gaps in available services and facilitate women and girls’ access to GBV services.”

Note to Editors on the GBV situation in Bhutan.

Gender-based violence (GBV) and domestic violence remains a significant issue in Bhutan as 2 out of every 5 women in the country have experienced one or more forms of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Additionally, 6.9 percent reported being sexually abused as children. A secondary analysis of risk factors associated with partner violence against women in Bhutan, based on the 2017 national Violence Against Women prevalence survey, identified childhood sexual abuse, young age, disability, challenges to gender norms, and harmful expressions of masculinity (alcohol use, extra-marital affairs and aggressive behavior) as strongly being associated with intimate partner violence.

Over half of all women and girls (53.4%) agreed that a man is justified in hitting his wife. A culture of acceptance and silence discourages community members from speaking out against child marriage and violence targeting women and children. Social and cultural barriers restrict women's and girls' autonomy, mobility, and access to economic opportunities challenging the effective implementation of legal provisions and institutional mechanisms in place.  RENEW saw 1,154 cases between 2022 to June 2023 of which 1,000 were female and 154 male. There has been a significant rise in the reported cases over the last 5 years. Emotional abuse tops the list followed by physical abuse. 

The statistics revealed that between April 2022 and June 2023, a total of 80  clients sought assistance for various forms of abuse. The most reported cases were related to  emotional abuse, followed by physical abuse, sexual abuse, and economic abuse. The center ensures proper network with all other service providers like hospitals, police, schools, local leaders, RENEW micro-finance and MSTF-CBSS network (community volunteers) in the dzongkhag.  The center is being managed by two regular staff - Center Manager and a Case Manager.

The center will ensure continued sensitization and awareness programs related to gender equality, GBV legal provisions and services available. They have reached out to over 3145 community members through sensitization and awareness programs, covering all 12 gewogs under Tsirang Dzongkhag. The center will continue organising capacity development training for service providers including local leaders, non-formal education instructors, early childcare and development staff, judiciary registrars and bench clerks, sector heads and dzongkhag staff.  So far, 314 of them have received different training packages.



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