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Burma: Rapist of Child Convicted, But Inadequate Sentence Imposed

By Asian Human Rights Commission  •  September 9, 2013

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is pleased to inform you that a man accused of repeatedly raping a teenage girl in Burma has, despite his efforts to destroy the case, been convicted. However, the court has imposed an inadequate sentence upon him, and activists in the country are calling for a stiffer punishment to serve as a warning to others that sexual violence against girls and women will not be tolerated.

CASE UPDATE:
As we described in our original appeal (AHRC-UAC-023-2013), Ma Htet Htet (not her real name), 15, was allegedly repeatedly raped by her employer, Myint Aung, and was also assaulted by him and his wife. After she brought allegations against them, the couple used their influence with local authorities to have charges brought against her over the alleged theft of a watch and money, and used other techniques to harass and threaten her, as described in a previous update (AHRC-UAU-011-2013).

We have now received copies of the court records showing that despite the attempts of the accused to despoil the case he was in August convicted of the offence of raping Htet Htet on six different occasions. However, notwithstanding the severity of the offence for which he has been convicted, the defendant was sentenced to only eight years in prison, less time held in custody already.

In fact, the charge of rape carries a possible life sentence. Given that the convicted Myint Aung was found guilty of raping a child on multiple occasions, activists in Burma are calling for the maximum sentence to be imposed upon him, to serve as a warning to others who might be tempted to commit a similar offence.

Please join with them in making this call, by sending letters to the responsible authorities in Burma, a sample of which follows, with additional information on the case in it, as usual.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the concerned authorities to express concern that the maximum sentence be imposed on this child rapist in this case. Please note that for the purposes of the letter Burma is referred to by its official name, Myanmar.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar; violence against women, and the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia calling for interventions into this case.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Rapist of child convicted but inadequate sentence imposed

Name of victim: Ma Htet Htet (not her real name), 15, domestic worker, resident of Min Hla Township, Bago Region, Myanmar
Convicted perpetrator: U Myint Aung, owner of the Cherry Billiards Hall, adjacent to the Medhawi Hospital in North Okkalapa Township, Yangon

Date of incident: November 2010 – 2 January 2013
Place of incident: At the house of the alleged perpetrators in Yangon, the apartment of Daw Nwe Ni in 3rd Street, Yangon, the New Light Restaurant, and a public toilet adjacent to the restaurant

Charge: Rape, section 376 of the Penal Code
Case: Criminal Case No. 18/2013, Yangon Eastern District Court, decided 5 August 2013, Judge Daw Khin Ma Swe presiding

I am writing to call for a harsher penalty to be imposed upon a convicted rapist of a teenage girl in Yangon, Myanmar.

According to the information that I have received, Ma Htet Htet (not her real name), worked for 15,000 Kyat per month (around USD18) for U Myint Aung and Daw Cho Mar in Yangon since November 2010. Myint Aung also forced her to work at his billiards hall and restaurant, where she had to sleep in a small locked room next to the cash counter. Over the next two years, Myint Aung allegedly repeatedly came and raped the girl when his wife went to collect their children from evening tuition, which finished at 11pm. He allegedly also gave her an Anlitin anti-pregnancy tablet after each incident and threatened her that he would kill her if he told anyone. His wife also abused the girl physically in a variety of ways.

Myint Aung and his wife used their local influence to attempt to derail the case but despite their efforts, in August 2013 he was convicted of raping the girl on six separate occasions in 2012. Although activists in Myanmar have welcomed the conviction, they are dismayed at the relatively short sentence imposed of only eight years, minus time already spent in custody awaiting trial. Given the seriousness of the offence, and the need to send a clear message to other rapists of children that such crimes will not be tolerated, they argue that the maximum penalty of life imprisonment ought to be imposed in this case.

I share their concerns, and while acknowledging the good outcome that the accused was convicted, despite his attempts to pervert the outcome, I remain troubled by the inadequacy of the sentence imposed and call for the case to be reviewed, with a view to the imposition of an appropriate sentence. This case is by no means isolated. All across Myanmar, children of tender ages like Ma Htet Htet suffer sexual abuse at the hands of influential people with money and means to manipulate local authorities’ behaviour and prevent action on their crimes. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that an example be set in this case so that other perpetrators of similar forms of abuse be made to understand that they can indeed be held to account for their crimes, in order that the incidence of such crimes be reduced as quickly as possible.

I also take this opportunity to call for a review of the legal framework for the handling of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, as well as all forms of violence against children in Myanmar. Most of the laws dealing with these crimes are antiquated, and in need of reexamination, so as to ensure that the country is able to deal with them as modern phenomena in a rapidly changing society. The current period in which Myanmar is going through an important political transformation presents enormous opportunities for improvements to legal and institutional measures to prevent the abuse of children, and I do hope that the concerned authorities in Myanmar will take their responsibilities in this regard seriously.

Yours sincerely,

—————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. U Tun Tun Oo
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
Fax: + 95 67 404 059

2. Dr. Tun Shin
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office No. 25
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

3. U Thein Sein
President of Myanmar
President Office
Office No.18
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR

4. U Hla Min
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

5. Chair Person
Anti-trafficking Unit Department
Ministry of Home Affairs
Naypitaw
MYANMAR
Tel-+95 67 412555/412666
Fax-+95 67 412555/412666

6. U Win Mra
Chairman
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
27 Pyay Road
Hlaing Township
Yangon
MYANMAR
Tel: +95-1-659668
Fax: +95-1-659668

7. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Chairwoman
Pyithu Hluttaw Rule of Law and Tranquility Committee
Office of the Pyithu Hluttaw
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR

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This post is in: Press Release

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