The practice of PchiruShelni (Night Hunting): Coercion or courtship?

Mar 20, 2017

Not much is known about Bhutan abroad. Even more scarce is literature on gender and sexuality studies. Much of the scholarly works relate to Bhutanese customs and culture. PchiruShelni, involves men having sexual relations with women by stealth, with or without consent, typically by sneaking into a woman’s bed or breaking into their houses under the cover of darkness. PchiruShelni is a sexual practice in rural Bhutan that is entrenched culturally and socially. It is popularly known as ‘Night Hunting’ among people who are literate. The term ‘pchiru’ means night and ‘shelni’ means to wander around (that men wander in search of women).


This PhD research is the first major study on PchiruShelni in Bhutan. PchiruShelni has been mentioned under the name of Night Hunting in smaller studies and was linked to sexually transmitted diseases, promiscuity, multiple sexual partners, early sexual experience and widespread extra marital affairs. The research is aimed at understanding the traditional concept of PchiruShelni that was seen as harmless and mostly positive and a cultural custom.  Besides these, there have been recent questions raised in the public arena (traditional and social media for example) that point to a conflict of opinion between those wanting to treat it as an entrenched and socially acceptable practice and those who maintain it is a form of sexual coercion and systemic violence against women.


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Kuensel, March 18, 2017

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