Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

19-25 November: Burma’s Reform Process Must Include Ending Violence Against Women

November 26, 2012

VAW Day in RangoonYesterday, as on every 25 November, women and men around the world celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence against women takes many forms, physical, sexual, psychological and economic and occurs all around the world and in every culture. Burma is no exception to that rule.

Women in Burma, and in particular in ethnic nationality areas, are the victims of sexual violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and discrimination. In addition, in situations of armed conflict and extreme poverty, they are often amongst the most vulnerable population and they bear the burden of war and displacement.

Rape has been used as a weapon of war by the Burma Army in ethnic areas for decades. In Kachin State where fighting has been ongoing for more than one year, the Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand (KWAT) has documented that Burma Army troops have committed sexual violence against at least 61 women and children, about half of whom were killed. One terrible case that shows the ongoing use of rape by the Burma Army in conflict areas is that of a woman beaten with rifle butts, stabbed with knives, stripped naked and gang-raped over a period of three days in a church by two Burma Army battalions in May of this year.

Despite ceasefire agreements in some ethnic areas like in Karen State, the presence of the Burma Army remains a constant threat for the security of ethnic communities, especially women. In March, a Karen woman reported being “beaten, drugged and sexually assaulted by two men wearing army fatigues.” Development projects are also another driving factor for sexual violence and exploitation of women in ethnic areas. A recent report by the Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization, “Pipeline Nightmare”, studies the impact of the Shwe Gas and Oil Pipeline Project on the Ta’ang people in Northern Shan State. The report concludes that after the pipeline project started there were many instances of sexual harassment and intimidation against women, not just from the Burma Army but by the Chinese construction workers as well.

Very young women and girls from Burma are also trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation, to work in the sex industry or to become brides in Thailand, China, Malaysia, Bangladesh and South Korea.

There has been complete impunity for these crimes as sadly illustrated by the case of Sumlut Roi Ja, who was allegedly abducted and gang-raped by Burma Army soldiers in Kachin State in October 2011. Her husband submitted a formal complaint to the Supreme Court asking for an investigation. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence while Sumlut Roi Ja’s husband was not even permitted to speak at the trial and the judge based his ruling solely on the testimony of the military defendants. After the ruling Moon Nay Li, KWAT Coordinator, concluded: “The message from the Naypyidaw Supreme Court is clear: the Burmese military can rape and kill ethnic women with impunity.”

Yesterday in Rangoon around 200 people gathered at the City Hall and marched on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Burma Partnership strongly supports their action and joins them in calling on the Burma government to take all necessary actions to ensure the reform process includes ending all forms of violence against women and girls in Burma.

News Highlights

Police attack and arrest four miners protesting against the government order to close the Moehti Moemi mines in Yemathin Township, Mandalay Region

Inside Burma

President Thein Sein orders more than a dozen ministries to repay tens of thousands of dollars “embezzled” by staff

MPs submit a motion to the Union Parliament calling for an end to state-run media

Parliament approves Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s proposal to create a regulatory team for the refurbishment of the Rangoon Arts and Science University and a motion to form an independent commission to investigate the Letpadaung copper project in Sagaing Region

President Thein Sein announces a four-point plan aimed at resolving conflict in Arakan State

Fresh fighting is reported near the jade-mining center of Hpakant in Kachin State

Karen National Union (KNU) leaders meet Karen civil society to discuss peace talks

Burma Army Border Guard troops accuse two villagers of being spies of the KNU and torture them, killing one and KNU claims Burma Army forcibly recruited Karen villagers

Five leaders of the People Democracy Party are detained on charges of incitement and defaming Kachin State Chief Minister after he was accused of corruption

Two reporters face charges for collecting information relating to a dispute between farmers in Kyaunggon Township, Irrawaddy Region, and the owner of a local fish farm

Burma’s GDP growth to rise to 6.25 percent next year according to the International Monetary Fund

Burma to sign the International Atomic Energy Agency’s “additional protocol”

Regional

ASEAN to launch its ASEAN Economic Community on 31 December 2015

International

UN appoints Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as ambassador of its programme on HIV and AIDS

US President Barack Obama announces US$170 million of aid for projects in civil society designed to build democratic institutions and improve education and agrees to cooperate on anti-trafficking measures

US Senator Trent Franks says atrocities in Kachin State may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity

New Zealand plans to set up a $6 million model dairy farm over five years ahead of Prime Minister John Key’s visit to Burma

Opinion

Obama is Endorsing a War Criminal in Burma
By Nang Seng
The Huffington Post

Latest from the Blog

“The Political Prisoners Game”
By Burma Partnership

Actions

More than 20 people demonstrated at US President Barack Obama’s speech in Rangoon calling on the US to support peace in Burma

More than 1,000 people demanding the closure of the Letpadaung copper mining project in Sagaing Division held another demonstration in front of the company’s headquarters; Daw Aung San Suu Kyi plans to visit the place and meet the residents (Burmese)

Statements and Press Releases

Burma: Release of Detainees Welcome, But Questions Remain
By Asian Human Rights Commission

Burma: Prominent Rights Lawyer’s Licence Reissued
By Asian Human Rights Commission

AAPP Cautiously Welcomes Release, Urges Thein Sein to Officially Recognize Existence of Political Prisoners
By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)

Credible Review Mechanism Needed for Remaining Political Prisoners
By Burma Campaign UK

Burma: Continued Violence in Rakhine and Persecution of Rohingyas Strongly Condemned
By Forum-Asia

Kachin Community Demands Stronger Action From the British Government
By Kachin National Organisation – UK

Statement of 4th Meeting of Central Standing Committee of 14th Congress
By Karen National Union

Myanmar: UN Expert Greets Latest Commitments on Human Rights and Calls for Swift Implementation
By Tomás Ojea Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

Statement by the United Nationalities Alliance
By United Nationalities Alliance

This post is in: Weekly Highlights