RANGOON — A 61-year-old man raped and choked to death a 5-year-old girl in Sarni Taung village, Thandwe Township, southern Arakan State on Tuesday evening, according to the Thandwe police.
The little girl went outside of her home around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and by 8 p.m., her parents began to search for her. The parents discovered their daughter’s dead body in the house belonging to their neighbor, U Han Maung, according to the Thandwe police.
The police arrested the suspect on Wednesday morning as he was riding his bicycle on the Thandwe-Taungup highway. Investigators believe that the perpetrator was trying to flee.
“He confessed his wrongdoings to the investigator. We transferred him to Thandwe prison yesterday,” said a Thandwe police officer.
Police charged U Han Maung with sexual abuse and murder, in accordance with articles 376 and 302 of Burma’s Penal Code.
This rape marks the second notorious case in Arakan State this year.
In February, a man raped a 7-year-old girl in Kan Seik village, Pauktaw Township. That case concluded on Dec. 12, when the judge sentenced the offender to 20 years in prison with hard labor.
The total number of reported rape cases in 2016 is significantly higher than in previous years, and social activists have been voicing their concerns.
On Wednesday, lawmaker Daw Khin San Hlaing of the National League for Democracy (NLD) asked in Parliament whether the government was willing to assign the harshest possible penalties to the culprits.
Gen Aung Soe, the deputy minister for home affairs, responded that his ministry would be drafting new laws to protect children’s rights and to prevent violence against women.
The deputy minister also said that child rape statistics are rising in Burma. In 2016, child rape cases made up 61 percent of all reported rapes. In 2015, that number was only 46 percent.
Since the start of the year, authorities have sentenced 206 offenders to prison after they were convicted of rape. Of those 206 cases, 24 were sentenced to 10-20 years in prison, 72 were sentenced to 8-10 years, 46 were sentenced to 6-7 years, and 65 were sentenced to 1-5 years.
Gen Aung Soe said the courts have received 517 total rape cases in 2016.