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110 High Profile Women Stand with the Women of Burma to End Rape and Sexual Violence

By Burma Campaign UK  •  March 8, 2016

On International Women’s Day, 110 high profile women, including Dame Judi Dench, Annie Lennox, Jo Brand, Gillian Anderson, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters and Zoë Wanamaker, are standing with the women of Burma to end rape and sexual violence. In the pledge, the high profile women, who also include activists and politicians, have vowed to support:

  • An investigation into rape and sexual violence by the Burmese military against ethnic women and girls.
  • An end to impunity for rape and other forms of sexual violence in Burma.
  • Support for victims.
  • The inclusion of women at every political level in Burma including the peace negotiations between the Burmese government and the ethnic armed political groups.
  • Burma’s Rape Law to be in line with international human rights standards to outlaw rape in marriage.

The Burmese army has used rape and sexual violence against women for decades as part of their warfare against ethnic minority groups in the country. This has been done with impunity and denial. Cases of women and girls being raped by soldiers from the government’s forces include the rape of a 12 year old girl in front of her mother, and of a disabled woman. Many of the victims were gang-raped, and many killed afterwards. This is in breach of international law, and constitutes a war crime. Reports of rape have increased in recent years. UN reports have described rape and sexual violence as “widespread and systematic”.

Although winning a landslide victory in national elections in November 2015, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, will not have control over the Burmese army when it takes office in April 2016. Therefore, there is a possibility that army rape will continue even with the new NLD-led government in place.

The new NLD-led government could initiate a domestic investigation into rape and sexual violence by the Burmese army, and make sure support for victims is available. It could also include women in peace negotiations and politics overall, as well as repealing laws, such as Burma’s rape law, which discriminate against women. However, the army could prove uncooperative with a possible investigation into rape and sexual violence.

Women’s groups in Burma, such as the Women’s League of Burma and its members, have long been highlighting the use of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese army against ethnic minority women. While there now is a possibility of a domestic investigation into this under the new NLD-led government, if the Burmese army proves uncooperative and rape and sexual violence continues, the international community must consider an international investigation to address these crimes. The international community should also offer proper support to survivors, and to support the inclusion of women in peace negotiations and at every political level in Burma.

“As a woman from Burma, I am grateful to see so many high profile women from the UK join forces with us to stop rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army,” said Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK. “The continuing use of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army is a crime, and the lack of action to stop it is a scandal.”

Members of the public are being invited to join the 110 women and stand with the women of Burma by signing the pledge to help stop rape and sexual violence in Burma. They can do so here.

 

The 110 women supporting the pledge

Angela Smith MP, Labour MP

Anna Roberts, Burma Campaign UK

Annie Lennox OBE, Singer

Baroness Bakewell DBE, Labour Peer

Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville MBE, Liberal Democrat Peer

Baroness Berridge, Conservative Peer

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Crossbench Peer

Baroness Coussins, Crossbench Peer

Baroness Cox, Crossbench Peer

Baroness Deech DBE, Crossbench Peer

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Crossbench Peer

Baroness Flather DL, Crossbench Peer

Baroness Golding, Labour Peer

Baroness Goudie, Labour Peer

Baroness Gould of Potternewton, Labour Peer

Baroness Harris of Richmomd DL, Liberal Democrat Peer

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, Labour Peer

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon QPM, Labour Peer

Baroness Hodgson of Abinger CBE, Conservative Peer

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party Peer

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, Labour Peer

Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE, Labour Peer

Baroness Mallalieu QC, Labour Peer

Baroness Meacher, Crossbench Peer

Baroness Nye, Labour Peer

Baroness Sharp of Guildford, Liberal Democrat Peer

Baroness Stedman-Scott OBE DL, Conservative Peer

Baroness Thornton, Labour Peer

Baroness Uddin, Non-affiliated Peer

Baroness Warnock DBE, Crossbench Peer (retired June 2015)

Baroness Wheatcroft, Conservative Peer

Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party MP

Carolyn Harris MP, Labour MP

Charlotte Leslie MP, Conservative MP

Cheery Zahau, Chin activist

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary

Cilla Black OBE*, Singer, TV-presenter

Dame Janet Suzman DBE, Actor

Dame Judi Dench CH, DBE, FRSA, Actor

Debbie Stothard, Altsean-Burma, The International Federation for Human Rights

Diane Abbott MP, Labour MP

Dr Cynthia Maung, Mae Tao Clinic

Fern Britton, TV-presenter

Fiona Bruce MP, Conservative MP

Fiona O’Donnell, Former Labour MP

Frances O’Grady, Trade Union Congress, General Secretary

Gillian Anderson, Actor

Hannah Bardell MP, Scottish National Party MP

Heidi Alexander MP, Labour MP

Helen Goodman MP, Labour MP

Helen Hayes MP, Labour MP

Honor Blackman, Actor

Hseng Moon, Shan Women’s Action Network

Imelda Staunton CBE, Actor

Jessica N-Hkum, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand

Jo Brand, Comedian

Jody Williams, Nobel Women’s Initiative – Received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997

Julia Marip, Women’s League of Burma

Julie Walters CBE, Actor

Karin Valtersson, Burma Campaign UK

Kate Hollern MP, Labour MP

Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour MP

Khin Ohmar, Burma Partnership

Khon Ja, Kachin Peace Network

Lorraine Kelly OBE, TV-presenter

Margaret Ritchie MP, Social Democratic & Labour Party MP

Margot James MP, Conservative MP

Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Actor

Marie Rimmer MP, Labour MP

Mary Creagh MP, Labour MP

Maureen Lipman CBE, Actor

Maw Moe Bu, Karenni activist

May Sabe Phyu, Kachin Peace Network

Meg Hillier MP, Labour (Co-op) MP

Moon Nay Li, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand

Naomi Long, Former Alliance MP

Naw K’Nyaw Paw, Karen Women’s Organisation

Naw Wah Ku Shee, Karen Women’s Organisation

Nicky Gavron AM, Labour London Assembly Member

Rachael Maskell MP, Labour (Co-op) MP

Ronni Ancona, Actor

Rosalinn Zahau, Chin Human Rights Organisation

Rt Hon Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, Labour Peer

Rt Hon Baroness Blackstone, Labour Peer

Rt Hon Baroness Corston, Labour Peer

Rt Hon Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, Labour Peer

Rt Hon Baroness Hughes of Stretford, Labour Peer

Rt Hon Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, Labour Peer

Rt Hon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Labour Peer

Rt Hon Caroline A Spelman MP, Conservative MP

Rt Hon Dame Joan Ruddock, Former Labour MP

Rushanara Ali MP, Labour MP

Sandra Osborne, Former Labour MP

Sappho Dias, Burma Justice Committee

Sarah Champion MP, Labour MP

Sarah Parish, Actor

Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour MP

Sheila Reid, Actor

Soe Soe Nwe, Women’s League of Burma

Susanna Hla Hla Soe, Karen Women Empowerment Group

Tin Tin Nyo, Burmese Women’s Union

Val McDermid, Author

Valerie Vaz MP, Labour MP

Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner – Northumbria

Victoria Roberts, Chair, Burma Campaign UK

Victoria Wood CBE, Comedian

Virginia McKenna OBE, Actor

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, Burma Campaign UK

Yasmin Qureshi MP, Labour MP

Yoko Ono, Artist

Zoë Wanamaker CBE, Actor

Zoya Phan, Burma Campaign UK

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