Global Human Rights Defence
Women’s Rights Issues in Bhutan
Wedged between India and China, Bhutan is a Himalayan nation ruled by an absolute monarch with a diverse racial, cultural, and religion population. Like many of its neighbours, women in Bhutan face a number of human rights abuses ranging from economic inequality to gender-based violence. One sixth of the total population of Bhutan (circa 106.000) are reduced to live as refugees, out of which almost 60% are the women and children languishing in the refugee camps in Nepal, ever since they were evicted by the royal government of Bhutan in early 1990, allegedly labeled as economic migrants. As the weaker section of the society, their condition in the refugee camps is most vulnerable and appalling. Due to the lack of higher education opportunities and adequate awareness on the value of human rights, neither they are efficient nor do they have an appropriate avenue to air their grievances. The fifteen years of uncertainty and stateliness have adversely affected the lives of women and children in the refugee camps. Therefore, there is a need to provide educational, vocational and empowerment trainings to the refugee women and children so as to advocate their cause more effectively and accurately. There is also an important need to create awareness on women rights, child rights, skill building, health sectors and women trafficking which is a most serious problem in south Asia.

The human rights situation of the Bhutanese women both inside the country as well as in the refugee camps located in Nepal is one of the glowing examples, where women have become the major victims of state atrocity. Unless the global commitments for justice, equality and freedom to all section of the human society are ensure both in letter and spirit, no human being can live in peace, prosperity and happiness as is inspired in the UN Millennium Goals.

Bhutan is a signatory of both UN Convention on Woman and Child rights. The government has the obligation to the UN Conventions and treaties but it never bother to focus on the women and children related issues. Though the country is swiftly preparing for holding parliamentary election in 2008 towards ushering parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy, there are no avenues created as yet for an inclusive and vibrant democracy. Everything is functioning under direct command of the king and any initiative for democracy is merely an attempt for hoodwinking the international community. Women and children are the main victims of the royal assaults in Bhutan, due to which a large number of them are reduced to live a life of refugees and stateless today in India and Nepal.
The main women’s rights issues in Bhutan
  1. Trafficking of women
  2. Polygamy
  3. Domestic Violence
  4. Illiteracy
  5. Exploitation in work areas and at home
  6. Gender-based discrimination
  7. Economic dependency / limited access to workforce
Actions that can be taken to improve the situation:
  1. Activate and pressurize the concerned government by bringing the violation of women rights cases into their immediate attention.
  2. Increase awareness about the international legal obligations of the Bhutanese government as a signatory of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women), which it ratified in 1979.
  3. Develop programs to rehabilitate women who are rescued from traffickers, brothels and domestic violence.
  4. Provide assistance to broken families, such as widows and other females with stigmatized status within their family.
  5. Create awareness amongst the women about the value of education and their rights in the society.
  6. Organize vocational training centres to impart job oriented trainings and help them to establish self help centres through which they can use their skills and produce and sells goods
GHRD Bhutan Activities
GHRD Bhutan team has decided to observe the International Women's Day on March 8th by launching the five days training for the trainers under the women empowerment program sponsored by the GHRD Head Office.
The objectives of this project are:
  1. Raise awareness on HIV / AIDS and other infectious diseases like tuberculosis and MDR cases.
  2. To create awareness and educate woman on the domestic laws, participation in the policy making and nation building activities equally and competitively so as to maintain the gender balance in the state of national affairs. Provide training and education on rights and international laws on woman and child, such as on the UN principles, international Covenants and Conventions.
  3. Providing educational assistance to the refugee children to do their higher education in the fields of their professional and higher studies.

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