The main problem with domestic and sexual violence in the Tibetan community is in the way we respond to the issue. Although some people find it easy to dismiss abuse in the Tibetan community by saying these things happen everywhere, there is a difference, the difference is that other societies have systems to deal with it. There are safe places for women to go if they need to flee, phone numbers to call if a woman needs help or someone to talk with, legal consequences for those who inflict violence, and social support. That’s what we need. We will never live in a place where everyone’s perfect, so we need systems to deal with real life problems that come up.
My husband was looking for information on the Central Tibetan Administration budget, and found that it was much higher than either of us expected. For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the exile administration authorized spending 153.5 crore rupees. That’s equal to over 25.5 million American dollars. In India, it would be easy to maintain low expenses for a plan to help victims of violence, it could be done, but there is no will. We have so many offices around Dharamsala, but no space for a support center. We have so many charities, but no one will openly address violence against women. The reason, I believe, is that an official response would be an admission that Tibetans have all the same failings as every other human community. Unfortunately, we are so invested in preserving a certain image that we’ve become willing to hide any truth to protect it, and the victims of violence are paying the price.