The Irrawaddy

Proposal to Impose Death Sentence in Child Rape Cases Voted Down

NAYPYITAW — The Lower House voted down a proposal to impose the death penalty in child rapes cases.

Lawmakers on Monday debated the proposal of Rathedaung Township lawmaker Daw Khin Saw Wai, which urged the Union government to impose the death penalty for child rape to act as a deterrent to potential perpetrators.

U Myo Tint, a judge with the Supreme Court of the Union, argued that the death penalty may only increase the risk of the victim being killed by the rapist.

“Suppose the death penalty is introduced. The sex offender will have to face the death penalty whether he rapes or kills the victim. Under such circumstances, he might be more likely to kill the victim to destroy evidence. We need to consider the safety of the victims,” the judge said.

Deputy Attorney General U Win Myint of the Union Attorney General’s Office also pointed to instances of false rape claims.

“We also need to take this into consideration. We have to decide if it is fair to impose the death penalty in every case,” he added.

Child rape accounted for 61 percent of total rape cases in 2016, 64 percent in 2017, and 68 percent until the end of April this year, said deputy minister for home affairs Major-General Aung Thu.

Even children aged between two and five were among the rape victims from January to February this year. Most of the victims were between 14 and 16, and most of the offenders were aged between 19 and 50.

A large number of rapes in Myanmar are committed by family members, but most are committed by strangers.

“It will take time to design a law against child rape. I would suggest adding a provision on child rape under Section 376 of the Penal Code,” said Kawhmu Township lawmaker U Kyaw Swe Win.

The punishment for rape ranges from 10 years to 20 years imprisonment under Section 376. The crime of raping and killing is punishable by the death sentence, said U Myo Tint.

Eighteen offenders were given 20 years’ imprisonment for child rape in 2016. The number increased to 25 last year.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.