“I’d urge everyone to stop ill-treating us..."
A young woman with disability recalls her abusive childhood
Trigger warning: Rape and Child abuse
“At the age of eight, I lost my vision completely due to an illness. I lived in Zhemgang, in a remote village, with my parents and six siblings. We were poor and my disability felt like a burden to my family. Once, Ama under the influence of alcohol started beating me. She stripped me to my underwear. I ran from her and groped my way into the jungle. In fear, I resorted to spending the night in hiding. However, I heard the leopard nearby and fearing for my life, I came back and hid in an animal shelter near home. Apa found out and he hit Ama.
At 16, Apa died from a long illness, and our family was broken. Even with my disability, I had to sleep alone in the makeshift hut to guard the crops in the field. One night, a man forcefully entered and tried to rape me. I tried with all my strength to fight him off, using my nails and even biting. He came the next night too and I fought him off again. On the third, he raped me.
Crying out of shock and pain, I carried my bag and went back home. The path was through jungles and thorn bushes, and I could never forget that 3-hour journey back home.
I couldn’t share this with anyone; honestly, I didn’t know what really happened and feared the consequence if anybody knew.
After four months, I started showing symptoms of pregnancy. My mother found out, and she beat me and threw me out of the house - I cried and explained that I was raped. She still said that it was my fault and that I have to face the consequences. For the next few months, I stayed with a relative before my mother decided to send me to my sister’s house in Gelephu.
After giving birth to a daughter, I was too weak to care for her. Most of the time, I just fell asleep. My sister nursed the baby. Back in the village, everyone blamed me for becoming a mother. Even if we had no control over the situation, people always blame the woman.
My mother hated my baby and refused to even touch her. As a blind person, I raised my daughter through the support of sympathising people.
As time went by, my daughter grew up and I could even enroll her in school. I did masseuse training and started making a living in the town. There, I faced exploitation at the hands of owners who refused to pay me. I even defaulted on my rents.
Back home, my daughter fell ill and I immediately left to be with her. Since then, I couldn’t return. Tarayana Foundation offered to help by putting my child under the care of a teacher far from home. I agreed even though she would no longer be with me - I knew she would have better education there.
As a woman with a disability, living in a remote village is full of nightmares. People make fun and even resort to hitting you because I can’t fight back. Imitating the adults, even children treat us the same. In the cities, people at least show kindness and mercy.
I live alone in the village and take care of myself. My only worry is to not run out of groceries. People like us are miserable enough; I’d urge everyone to stop ill-treating and raping us.”
Violence against children with disabilities is a reality that needs attention, and should be addressed.
NCWC Woman & Child Helpline: 1098
Royal Bhutan Police: 113
Nazhoen Lamtoen: 1257