Women’s Groups Condemn Sexual Violence by Govt Army

Women and children take shelter as they flee fighting in Kachin State. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Thirty-one ethnic women’s groups in Burma have condemned the government army for committing sexual abuses against women in war-torn Kachin State, in contravention of UN conventions to which Burma is a signatory.

The groups released a joint statement on Sunday saying that the government has ignored not only the Geneva Convention governing the conduct of war, but also a treaty that forbids discrimination against women in any form.

The groups made the statement after finishing a workshop on peace-building and conflict transformation in Rangoon from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, which was attended by 43 female representatives from different parts of the country.

The statement read: “We call for special care and priority to be given to the protection of civilians, especially women and children. This is in compliance with the spirit and content of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 1674, the Geneva Convention and the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to which Myanmar is a party.”

“We call for an immediate end to the ongoing intense offensives in Kachin state,” read the statement.

Speaking with The Irrawaddy on Monday, Susanna Hla Hla Soe, the general secretary of the Rangoon-based Karen Women’s Action Group, said that Burma signed the CEDAW in 1997, but still doesn’t implement it in practice.

“Kachin women representatives who attended the workshop emotionally expressed their sadness and  concern about how women and girls are suffering from ill treatment. I was very sad to hear their terrible stories of sexual violence, such as gang rape against women and girls,” said Hla Hla Soe.

“Burma needs to implement a law protecting women as soon as possible,” she added.

Burma’s former military regime signed the CEDAW in 1997, agreeing to reduce discrimination against women, stop rape and other forms of violence against women and form a way for women to file complaints if their rights are abused.

The women’s groups, who represented Karen, Kachin, Shan, Arakanese, Mon, Karenni and other ethnic minorities, also called for the inclusion of ethnic women’s civil society organizations in all aspects of peace processes undertaken by the government and ethnic organizations.

The women’s groups also urged international donors to support their efforts to end not only war, but also violence and other forms of discrimination against women.

“We urge donor organizations supporting Myanmar’s peace processes and organizations implementing peace programs to be transparent, inclusive and to ensure gender equality in all aspects of their work.”

9 Responses to Women’s Groups Condemn Sexual Violence by Govt Army

  1. Burmese army should be kind to Kachin people. Then they will win their hearts.

  2. Sexual violence is intolerable. Any kind of violence against fellow human beings must stop if Thein Sein is a Buddhist. In his watch, not much change has been in the land.

  3. Violence against helpless women is horrible. Any kind of violence against human beings is crime. If the servicemen commit this kind of crime against citizens, they must be prosecuted in the court of law and if found guilty, they must be punished with severe punishment. Lets see how the junta is handling on this case.

  4. Sad but, true. Rape is the middle name of every Burman male.

  5. Is the Buddhism allow rapes as a weapon??, worth to investigate, these atrocities are only committed by the Buddhist Burmese Soldiers under the pure order of the Buddhist Generals. Not only in this era, Burmese soldiers have been famous rapist and afforded extreme measures of tortures through out the history, such as invasion of Assam Ahom Kongdom, Invasion of Arakan, Invasion of Ayuddaya, now seems the turn of the Shans Karen and Kachin women who trapped by dishonored and defunct Panglong Agreements.

    • In response to your rather idiotic statement I do hope that your genitals rot and fall off? Well all around the world there a great big shining fools like yourself that did not know what to say when religion came up as a question regard your death. Lots and lots of people profess to having a faith in something or other this never means that they a) can read b) mean to uphold any of the sensibility’s that tradition may describe.

  6. All Burmese ethnic women are as precious as Indian women.

  7. I do feel that it is sad when an army group is being defined by such horrid behaviour, this sort of behaviour is so unbecoming to men also means that they might not be very good at being soldiers at all. Well done to the women of Burma for putting these complaints forward. These men now form a health hazard. I do feel that one should write to the superior in charge of them to see if they are not well trained or may be all their soldiers are illiterate. Why did a stupid man or woman think that Buddhist allows rape a lot of Buddhist can read. The Geneva convention is also non religious while being right.

  8. It is funny how some people have to shove religion into statements about those fault life is when we should have a legal structure for everyone that deals with crime in an effective way. If for instance a lot of people as a group find themselves using a notion that there wealth will protect them from the law they should find this not to be the case at all. There should never be one law for men and another for women. Rape is horrid and uncalled for in every case. Rapists are a nuisances, trying to look for religious reason for doing something like this is unwise.

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