Alleged Rape Victim, 8, Dies of Malnutrition in Rangoon

By Moe Myint 22 October 2015

RANGOON — An 8-year-old Arakanese girl who was allegedly raped by a soldier last month has died of malnutrition in a Rangoon hospital, a medical official confirmed, marking an early end to a tragic life of poverty, sickness and abuse.

The young girl, whose mother is deceased, was born and raised in the Arakan State capital Sittwe, where her father tended to her fragile health condition until she was transferred to Yankin Children’s Hospital for emergency care.

“We recorded the death as a normal case,” the hospital’s superintendent Dr. Htar Htar Soe told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “Her illness is very rare and she faced severe nutritional deficiencies.”

The superintendent said the primary cause of death was malnutrition, a condition which also led to tuberculosis. Medical staffs were aware that the girl had recently been the victim of a violent sexual assault that resulted in internal injuries, though she was being treated specifically for malnourishment.

A police official in Sittwe said the girl had suffered chronic health problems for years, leaving her unable to walk, sit and lie down comfortably. Her father, the officer said, was a poor day laborer who often drank at home with a friend who served in the Burma Army.

The police officer, Sittwe No. 1 Police Station Chief Yan Naing Thet, said that on Sept. 22, a case was filed alleging that the soldier, who was staying at the girl’s home while he was on leave, had brutally raped her while her father was away.

The case was turned over to military officials on Sept. 25, Yan Naing Thet said, who told him the soldier would be tried by court-martial. The status of the case is presently unknown, and military officials could not be reached for comment.

The girl’s father was also unreachable on Thursday.

A funeral was held for the victim on Oct. 22 at Rangoon’s Yayway Cemetery, attended by the regional Arakan Ethnic Affairs Minister.