Women’s Groups Want Burma Army Reformed To End Sexual Violence

By Network Media Group
Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Women’s groups are not impressed with the regime’s decision to jail a Burma Army soldier (BA) for 20 years after he was convicted of raping a woman in northern Shan State. Instead, they called for systematic change to stop the military’s sexual violence against women and its other human rights abuses in its decades-long war against the ethnic nationalities.

”Until now, the Burma Army has committed various kinds of violence, gang rapes, killings and human rights violations in ethnic areas with impunity. When they use rape as a weapon in the ethnic regions, they are committing war crimes,” said Moon Nelly, spokesperson for the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand, who was doubtful the recent verdict will prevent BA soldiers from raping more women.

In December, Private Min Min Soe was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to raping a 60-year-old woman in Hper Khat village in Kutkai Township on 7 November. Two other soldiers from the Light Infantry Battalion 336 who were with him were sentenced to three months hard labour. Their sergeant was demoted to corporal and the company commander and the commander of the military column had their military service reduced by one year, delaying when they can be promoted or receive their pension.

Tin Tin Nyo, advisor to the Burma Women’s Union, told NMG that the junta wants the international community to believe it is taking responsibility for the military’s actions, but it is all for show. “We wonder why they do not take action against (all) their officers and soldiers who have committed other cruel and brutal human rights violations.”

In 2015, soldiers raped and murdered Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin in their hut in Kawng Hkar village in Kutkai Township. No one has been charged for the murder of the 20-year-old volunteer teachers from the Kachin Baptist Convention. This year, a 14-year-old ethnic Buddhist Ta’ang nun in the township was sexually abused by the military. Last month, soldiers in Tedim Township raped two Chin women, one of whom had just given birth and the other, her sister-in-law, was seven months pregnant. The soldiers beat up the husband of the woman who had a baby one month and half ago and tied him up so that he had to watch the gang rape.

Despite compelling evidence indicating BA soldiers were responsible for these crimes, women’s groups said all the culprits went unpunished and vowed to fight for justice for the victims.