Friday, November 25, 2011

Filled Under: , ,

Burma: the statement for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women....25 November 2011

Helen Joe

Myanmar had been ratify to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ( CEDAW) on 22 July 1997 with a reservation regarding Article 29. In order to promote and protect the rights of women and girls, the Government had established the Myanmar National Committee for Women's Affairs in 1996, as a national machinery to carry out the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. In Addition, the Myanmar's Women's Affairs Federation had been established in 2003 to take effective measures of women's affairs in implementing the principles and guidelines laid down by the Myanmar National Committee for Women's Affairs. Free legal assistance and advice to complainants had also been given. Letters for taking legal action had been forwarded to the relevant departments.

However, the committee comprises with the military and its followers. As it is created by the junta the committee has no power and cannot advocate the rights for the women from minority groups or women from poor and rural communities.

Concerning major issues of violence against women, in 2011, the combination of ongoing civil war in Myanmar makes women vulnerable than before. Frequently, women are forced to work as porters and unpaid labourers for military troops and are often raped by military personnel.

Ethnic women in areas where armed conflict with the junta is ongoing face constant threats of attack, forced married, rape, torture, slavery, and murder by military. In addition, while male members of the community are taken as porters, serve as soldiers, or are killed, women are often left alone to raise their children. Even after fleeing to a neighboring country for protection, female refugees and children are the most at risk in threats to their security.

Increasingly the military employs a broad range of repressive strategies in
order to ensure that any soldiers or officers guilty of the war crimes of rape and sexual
violence against civilian women and girls evade punishment. This ranges from the
generally pervasive climate of fear, which prevents civilians from speaking out, to death threats if complaints are made, to false imprisonment, torture and disappearance. Often the family members of women who have been raped who take complaints to the military are immediately arrested and accused of being supporters of the resistance.

According to documentation of Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT), women and children have suffered some of the worst crimes, including rape and sexual violence. 37 women and girls were raped during the first two months of the conflict (June and July); 13 of these were killed. On September 24, three separate rape incidents by Burma Army troops occurred in Muse and Kutkai townships, Shan State, involving two girls, aged 14 and 17, and one woman, aged 40.   

On October 28, 2011 the incident of women from kachin state was gang raped by military shows the more serious concern on making complain. As soon as she was kidnapped, her family members complain to the police station but there is no action take place.

Police complicity ---The lack of legal redress

The complaint for the rape case and sexual torture directly to the military senior officer or police is still risky business in Burma as the marital rape is not recognized as a criminal offence.Some of the victims and their family are verbally and physically assaulted and mostly end with no action. In some case, complainant are tortured and sentenced in prison for falsely accuses of being or supporting rebels. In each of these cases the police, government officials and district law officers either refused to investigate or to prosecute cases of rape mainly perpetrated by the military or government officials. Silencing and force to renounce the accusation are blocked the way to seek justice.

In addition to the number of stories which demonstrate the way in which the military’s silences complaints, a number of the stories highlight that the perpetrators from the military are capable of raping with impunity.

While it is clear from the reports from international women organizations the Licence to Rape and Shattering Silences that rape is being condoned by the military as a strategy of war in the recognised conflict areas, the cases in this report indicate that sexual violence by military troops and authorities is also prevalent in ceasefire and “non-conflict” areas throughout the country, including in central areas of Burma.

A number of the documented cases highlight the absence of the rule of law in any part of Burma, motley in civil war areas. The Township Peace and Development Chairman and the police declined to assist the rape case committed by military and usually ignore with that case are army matter.

As the policing system in Burma is under military dictatorship, there is no legal action set for the military perpetrators. Additionally, in Penal code ,article 376(376.    Whoever commits rape shall be punished with transportation for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine, unless the woman raped is his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which case he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.) is mentioning about the punishment for the case of rape , but it does not exercise until today.

Relating to this, on article 375 there is the exception about rape case is written as “Exception.-- Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under thirteen years of age, is not rape.” This article is directly target to the violation against women .

Alternative voices must be heard to provide a true assessment of the existing conditions for women inside Burma, and to ensure that improvements can be made. It is also critical that women inside Burma have access to information about their rights under CEDAW and the state obligations as a State Party in order to redress their situation.

Furthermore, after new government took office in 2011, the further doing of the government have been noticed of carrying the changes inside the country. However, the specific legal law against violence women from Myanmar have not provided yet. Women from conflict zones as well as in non-conflict area cannot seek justice unless there is concrete rule of law in Myanmar.


Post a Comment