Trigger warning: Suicide and Sexual Violence

“Ama had just one answer about me, ‘Though he is a boy, his actions are girly. There’s nothing we could do about it.’ Somehow, she always accepted and loved me. The school wasn’t bad either when I was young. The harsh treatment came when I got older. The teachers warned me against playing and being friends with girls, or else I’d be expelled or punished. At 14, Ama fell sick and suddenly passed away, followed by Apa who drank himself to death with grief. My siblings and I were all alone and my problems had only begun. In boarding school, the bullies were after me all the time. The name-calling and taunting never seemed to stop, and it pushed me to depression.

There was a boy. He’d repeatedly climb onto my bed and force himself on me. He raped me for three years and all those times, I was silent. He warned me against telling anyone. The worst of all was that he was my best friend since grade two. My only choice was to survive another day. One night in the school washroom, a senior tried to force himself on me. I cried and begged him to stop. He was stronger and had his way with me. I was inconsolable for days. In a few instances, I did report physical bullies, but I didn’t know how to report rape. I feared that no one would believe me or take action.

I started drinking at 15 and all the while thought of ending my life. It was the only way I knew to deal with my problems. During school breaks, I worked odd jobs at restaurants to buy my uniforms and books. The owner was kind, but when people stared too much, I quit. In high school, the bullies got worse. At one point, I grew too tired and decided to quit school. I talked to my counsellor and said that I’ll go to Thimphu and work in a Drayang. My class teacher was informed, and she got really upset. She didn’t want me to give up so easily. She immediately asked me to move in with her from the dorms. At first, I hesitated but eventually, I agreed. All that time, she made my bullies write statements and punished them even. Every time someone teased me, she came to my rescue.

The boys eventually started to accuse her of partiality towards other students, be it having my back to not making me cut my hair short enough. Once, she had too much and for the first time, I saw her break down and cry. Even so, her support never waned. At home, I was treated like her own child. Her husband was supportive too. We had our meals together like a family and though I never asked, every Saturday she’d give me pocket money.

I’m an adult now and live in Thimphu. It is hard for queer people like me to find regular jobs and even if we do, the environment is never enabling. My teacher still calls and visits me when she is in town. She even offers to help, but I think I’m too old now, and she’s done enough for me already. If everything goes well, I hope I can repay her someday. Queer people like me are vulnerable, especially children, and I urge for a safer society and school, free of violence and discrimination for us.”

Humans of Thimphu with the National Commission for Women and Children – NCWC, BhutanUNICEF Bhutan and partners stand in solidarity with all survivors and commit to working for a Bhutan free of violence against children.

NCWC Women & Child Helpline: 1098
Royal Bhutan Police: 113
Nazhoen Lamtoen: 1257
#HumansofThimphu #EndChildViolence

 

Author: Dechen Wangdi

About the Author

(He/They) is one of the founding members of Humans of Thimphu and currently serves as the editor and content writer on the platform. Enthusiastic writer and photographer, his works mainly surrounds human interest story and advocacy on LGBTQIA+ and Youth empowerment. He also harbours an interest in photojournalism.

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