Husband to be compensated when wife is raped: Coming to terms with a side to Bhutan I don’t like

“If found guilty, the offence would be graded a fourth degree felony, and the men will also be liable to pay compensation to the husband.”

I cannot believe I just read this line in Kuensel. This was stated by the newspaper’s sources (the police) and I cross-checked the Penal Code to ensure that this was true. The men are to be charged with, “Rape of a married woman”.

In the Penal Code:

Rape of a married person

179. A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a married person, if the defendant rapes a married person.

Grading of rape of a married person

180. The offence of rape of a married person shall be a felony of the fourth degree and shall also be liable to pay “GAO” in accordance with the other laws.”

A defendant convicted of a felony of the fourth degree shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a minimum of which shall be three years and a maximum of which shall be less than five years.

Two problems: First, the Penal Code does not specify that the husband be compensated; second, a minimum imprisonment of just three years and a maximum, MAXIMUM of five years? Wow! No wonder our rapists are not being deterred. And why must the husband be compensated? Damage to his “property” aka his wife? Can a rape survivor ever be properly compensated?

I must also mention that I looked up the Amended Penal Code (2011) hoping that certain amendments to the archaic laws had been made, but I was in for some disappointment. No changes had been made to the grading of rape. Should penalties be less severe just because a woman is married?

There are these wonderful people following me on my Facebook page calling my post against rapists a man-bashing activity, and who then post stories of men being raped. Uh huh. Sorry, at the moment I cannot relate because I have my mind and hands full explaining that RAPE is wrong because rape survivors who are 99% women and girls are being raped by Men. Perhaps those people and I need to have a conversation about priorities.

Actually, we should have a conversation about consent. No means No, whether you are a woman or a man. I hope the people posting such comments on my wall understand this. If you don’t, you have no right posting stories of rape of men on my wall.

I am at the moment, completely absorbed in the story of the 19-year-old woman who was raped. Who wouldn’t be? She was out late with a man who was not her husband and worse, she was drunk. She asked for it.

How DARE you condemn the woman! She has every right to be out with a man who is not her husband, at any given time of the day or night wearing whatever she wants, sober or drunk because she can. Also, it is not a crime for a married woman to have male friends. The woman’s only fault is that she trusts men. In Kuensel’s story, the woman trusted her uncle. So blame her for believing she was safe?

How many men leave their homes fearing they will be raped? How many of you reading this right now, and are men have experienced that fear? Have you (men) experienced the need to walk home faster because it was getting dark? Broken out in cold sweat on a street with no lights? Not because you fear ghosts or murderers, but because you are scared you will be groped, pushed into a bush or a moving vehicle, and raped? How many of you have felt that? Women including myself have the threat of rape or sexual harassment following us around like our shadows- inseparable. Now tell me, you men who call me an ignorant man-basher, do you live this reality?

I have always believed Bhutan to be safe. I have always believed that Bhutanese men and women if not anything else, at least share almost equal space. How wrong I was and am. If the judgmental posts on my Facebook page are anything to go by, the equal space I had in mind was limited and maybe even imagined. My heart broke with this realization, yesterday.

Today, I am angry.

As a woman, I will not give up the freedoms that are as much mine as they are a man’s. We excuse men for being drunk, but condemn a woman for the same? Isn’t this hypocrisy? I have not known Thimphu to be unsafe. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago I was marveling at how I could walk the streets of Thimphu after eight pm and be safe even without cops prowling the streets. This loss makes me angry. The men who make my city unsafe make me angry. A society that will be okay with the rape survivor’s husband being compensated makes me angry.

Why am I so angry? It’s because society denies me my freedom to be an equal individual. Simone de Beauvoir put it so well, “Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female- whenever she behaves as a human being, she is said to imitate the male”.




6 thoughts on “Husband to be compensated when wife is raped: Coming to terms with a side to Bhutan I don’t like

  • Madam/miss Namgay,
    First of all I had really appreciated for your initiation and for that a big round of applaud goes to you la. In this case, recent gang rape, a victim lady is married and there is high chances that if her husband does not understands her problem, he may leave be her be it in any circumstances. which may again add traumatic pressure on her. For this reason I am writing this to find some other alternatives to console her husband and to keep continue & sustain his love and trust towards her.
    Get some Ideas….

  • Thank you Madam for atleast being one person who fights against this kind of crime. I am always with you. Bhutanese people perceive that there is no gender disparity in Bhutan and ignore the fact of those subtle discrimination. Yes women have all the rights as an individual. let me share an incident with you all. Once I was teaching in class nine and I was teaching about Fundamental Rights. I gave an example of Freedom of Profession as ” every citizen irrespective of any social background including gender can choose a particular job” and the specific example was that a woman cannot be denied from being a pilot just because she is a woman. “So you boys will you stop your wife in future if she wants to take up such jobs” I asked this question. To my shock a boy said “no I will not because she is under me”. From this incident I realized that how men built up their mentality. I asked myself how do we educate this kind of people (men & women) who try to draw a distinct dividing line between the sex or gender. People think that fight against rape, gender equality, women empowerment are to be geared by women only and they fail to realize that these are societal needs. When we talk about gender equality and all, men think that we are asking their rights and depriving them from their own rights. How wrong these men are who think in a very narrow and selfish manner.
    Rapes can only be prevented if men do not pose any threat to women because be it at home or in workplace or in public men pose threat of sexual abuse. It happens only because of the perception of both men and women that “women are sexual objects” and “women are to be used by men.”
    It is not an individual trait but a societal trait, therefore let us fight and make our society a safe place for all individuals.

  • Keep moving forward. You may also think about difference between modernization and westernization. Then provoke politician to look into the matter.

  • I am with you Namgay. Great job. To be specific, the problem associated rape, that needs to be addressed are awareness and education, internet porn, laws, proper help center. Most importantly we need professionals to study and handle rape, and STRONG LAW, where sane people would never think of raping without consent.

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