Artists to Campaign Against Surge in Child Rape Cases in Rangoon

By Yu Mon Kyaw 21 November 2016

RANGOON — Burmese artists and celebrities will speak out against sexual violence and child rape at an event on Rangoon’s Kandawgyi Myaw Sin Island on Nov. 27.

The artists’ event comes in response to a recent surge in reports of child rape across Burma and especially in Rangoon. It will call for harsh penalties against sex offenders and raise public awareness about sexual violence against children.

“We have invited as many artists as we can,” said Ko Maung Maung Aye, an event organizer, “And they have promised to go.”

Organizers have created a Facebook page to promote the anti-rape campaign among netizens.

Concurrently, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is designing a new law against gender-based violence. The ministry will soon launch a one-stop service for women dealing with sexual assaults at the Women’s Vocational Training School on Natmauk Street in Rangoon, deputy director-general of the social welfare department Dr San San Aye told The Irrawaddy.

“Normally, when women or girls file complaints of sexual assault, they have to report the incident three times—to the police, to the social welfare department, and to doctors who perform medical checks,” she said.

“No victim wants to talk about a painful experience three or four times. Therefore, we have organized a one-stop service where social welfare department personnel, police, health staff, and lawyers will all be present 24 hours a day. Eventually, we hope to expand this service throughout the country,” said Dr San San Aye.

Under the previous government, lawmaker U Thein Nyunt urged the Parliament to impose the death penalty for those convicted of raping girls under 16. But the parliament rejected his proposal.

In a recent case in Rangoon, a 5-year-old girl was raped by her 18-year-old stepbrother, sparking public outrage.

Through the end of September, the Burma Police Force has counted a total of 761 rape cases this calendar year, of which 461 were committed against minors under 16. These numbers reflect a substantial jump in reported rapes over previous years—682 cases in 2015, 756 cases in 2014, and 734 cases in 2013.

According to police records, most child rape victims are under 10 years old. Most are sexually abused by close relatives, by friends of their parents, by uncles, or in some cases by their own fathers.

“If we reopen the gallows in our prisons, then rape cases—including child rape—will decline. Therefore, I would like to urge the president and authorities to reopen the gallows,” said lawyer Daw Soe Sandar Linn.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko