BPC’s alleged sexual harassment victim sought counselling help

The alleged victim of the sexually harassment incident within the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) has completed 10 days of counselling services from Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW) citing she was “depressed and devastated”. The 35-year woman was diagnosed with “extreme stress” at the physiatrist ward at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Referral Hospital (JDWNRH). She said that she resorted to taking counselling help after she was not able to maintain her composure and feared “unpredictable actions”. “My friends recommended counselling services and helped register my case with the RENEW.” The sexual harassment allegedly occurred in the early hours of September 15 and the BPC’s management, after its internal investigation committee unearthed a “strong prima facie evidence”, forwarded the case to the police on October 1. The decision to hand over the case to the police was unanimously made by the BPC board of directors. According to the BPC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sonam Tobjey, the management’s decision to involve the police was based on “finding strong prima facie evidence” during its internal investigation. “Bhutan Power Corporation Limited has zero-tolerance against sexual harassment, the service rule allows the management to take action against any variations of harassment that is reported to the management officially,” he said. “An employee shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment if he or she commits any kind of sexual harassment as defined by the service rules,” states a clause in the BPC’s Service Rules and Regulations (2016). Sources claim that the woman was pressured by the director and his family to solve the case internally, and not lodge the complaint to the BPC management. She was reportedly offered substantial monetary benefits apart from the promise to help her in any adverse situation. The customer representative of BPC’s call centre filed the case to the management on September 20 and it was received by the CEO on September 22. As per procedures in the company’s Service Rules and Regulations (2016), the alleged victim must submit the complaint in writing to a designated person who shall acknowledge the receipt of the complaint within two working days and commence an investigation within five working days. If the outcome of the internal investigation is unsatisfactory, the victim can lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources. The suspect has been suspended from his official duty as per the suspension order signed by the BPC’s CEO on September 24.