Trigger warning: Child abuse

“When I was in fourth grade, my parents separated. Since my sister and I were more attached to our mother, we decided to stay with her. We moved to another district far away with our grandparents. The following winter, our grandmother passed away, and everything started to fall apart. My grandfather and older uncle never liked my sister and me. The younger uncle would be treated better. School was strict, and we were scared of failing our exams. But only our youngest uncle would be sent for extra tutoring while my sister and I hardly had time to study due to all the household work.

Often late at night, our grandfather asked us to buy alcohol from town, miles away from home. Scared, my sister and I would hold hands, chant prayers, and walk with our eyes, barely looking away from the road.

We would be kicked and beaten severely if we failed to follow his orders. Our grandfather hit our mother, too; she was helpless to do anything and was even hospitalized due to exhaustion. I still blame him for my mother’s death, who never got to live a happy life. The agony and misery had eventually taken her life. I remember her telling us that her heart was in pain, but we would never understand it until we were old enough. I later learned that he was my mother’s stepfather, and I realized we were never his own, to begin with, which explained the hatred toward us.

We had to collect firewood from the forest, and when the load was too much, I would simply cry. Drunk and senseless, my grandfather would try to strangle me and throw my books into the water when I studied. He’d intentionally soak my uniform wet in the morning before school. This would make me late for class, and we would skip morning assembly and only join at the end. Sometimes in anger, he’d chase us around with a knife threatening to kill us. Finally, when we were asked to leave, my mother would tell us the land belonged to her mother, and that we would not leave.

Amidst all these, we could never ask for help since everyone around us brushed off our problems as alcohol issues though some neighbours did intervene out of pity and told our grandfather not to hit the kids. Even the teachers never seemed to have been bothered after seeing the signs of abuse in us. Years later, I learned about the child protection laws and agencies we could have asked for help from. I left school early to join a Drayang and now I am unemployed. Remembering my childhood brings back a lot of trauma even though the abusive days are all behind us now. As a child, if I’d known ways to escape all the cruelty, we would have been much happier and led fulfilling lives.”

Humans of Thimphu, with National Commission for Women and Children – NCWC, BhutanUNICEF Bhutan and Partners urge everyone to play their part in ensuring safety of every child and help end all forms of violence against children.

Violence is closer than you think
Recognize it. Report it.
Call
Woman and Child Helpline: 1098
Royal Bhutan Police: 113
Nazhoen Lamtoen: 1257
RENEW: 17126353
#EndVACinBhutan #EveryChildMatters

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