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Home > Main Library > Human Rights > Discrimination > Women: discrimination/violence against > Discrimination/violence against women: reports of violations in Karen (Kayin) State

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Discrimination/violence against women: reports of violations in Karen (Kayin) State

Individual Documents

Title: Hidden Strengths, Hidden Struggles: Women’s testimonies from southeast Myanmar - English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 03 August 2016
Description/subject: "This report presents women’s testimonies in respect of various issues during the reporting period of January 2012 to March 2016. These issues include the dangers posed to women by the presence of armed actors in communities; the effects of land confiscation and development projects on women’s livelihoods; women’s access to healthcare and education; the continued occurrence of gender-based violence; and the harms caused by landmines; forced labour; arbitrary taxation and extortion. Importantly, women’s actions and agency in the face of abuse and injustice are also documented in this report. These agency strategies are documented to highlight women’s actions as women are not passive recipients of abuse...KHRG presents the perspectives of local women on issues identified by them, including livelihoods, militarisation,health, education, and others. The report outlines human rights abuses that are of particular concern for women, including gender-based violence (GBV), and how continued human rights abuses in southeast Myanmar affect women and men differently, an aspect that is often overlooked. In addition, it highlights the agency strategies that women employ for self-protection, and the challenges they face when attempting to access justice for abuses. Finally, the report suggests ways to address the issues raised and improve the situation for women in southeast Myanmar, by giving concrete recommendations to the Government of Myanmar, ethnic armed organisations, local and international civil society organisations, and the international community supporting the peace process and in Myanmar. KHRG is confident that this report will provide a valuable resource for practitioners and stakeholders working on issues related to southeast Myanmar, and that it can be used as a tool in developing an awareness of local women’s concerns and agency. KHRG also believes that the report will be equally interesting for members of the general public who would like to learn more about women’s perspectives of the situation on the ground in rural southeast Myanmar..." pdf links in html version
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ), Karen
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf
Alternate URLs: http://khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg_july_2016_hidden_strengths_hidden_struggles_english_resize... (English, 3.7MB)
http://khrg.org/sites/default/files/book_-_hidden_strengths_burmese_for_web_resize.pdf (Burmese, 3.7MB)
http://khrg.org/sites/default/files/thematic2016e_final_resize.pdf (map, English)
http://khrg.org/sites/default/files/thematic2016b_final_resize.pdf (map, Burmese)
http://khrg.org/sites/default/files/hshs_appendix_final_resize.pdf (appendix, English - raw data, 5MB)
Date of entry/update: 04 August 2016

Title: Rape and violent threats in Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District, April 2014 to May 2015
Date of publication: 28 July 2015
Description/subject: "This News Bulletin describes a rape case and ongoing threats in B--- village, Kyaw Hkee village tract, Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District, that took place between April 2014 and May 2015. A 17-year-old villager from B--- village, named Naw A---, who at the time was 16 years old, reported that she was raped and subsequently fell pregnant by 26-year-old Saw Hpah Kyaw Eh who is already the father of two children. According to Naw A---, Saw Hpah Kyaw Eh raped her at her house when her adoptive mother and brother were out. After finding out she was pregnant, Naw A--- reported the rape to the village leaders, who dismissed the case as they believe Naw A--- to be feeble-minded. Saw Hpah Kyaw Eh did not take responsibility for the rape and he has kept denying that it was him. Saw Hpah Kyaw Eh said it was Naw A---’s adopted brother that she calls Saw Z--- who had raped her. This news bulletin also describes the villagers’ reactions to Naw A--- and what the victim’s adoptive family did after the case. As of the end of May 2015, the case was re-opened and investigations have begun. The case was re-opened by the Karen Women Organisation (KWO) and the village tract leaders, and has been transferred to the Karen National Police Force (KNPF) for further investigation."
Language: English, Karen and Burmese
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (177K-reduced version; 843K-original, 67K-reduced version; 89.9K-original and 85K-reduced version;172K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/15-8-nb1_0.pdf
Date of entry/update: 14 September 2015

Title: Tenasserim Interview: Saw C---, Received in May 2011
Date of publication: 09 September 2011
Description/subject: "This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted prior to Burma's November 2010 elections in Te Naw Th’Ri Township, Tenasserim Division by a villager trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. The villager interviewed Saw C---, a 30-year-old married hill field farmer who told KHRG that he was appointed to the position of village head by his local VPDC in an area of Te Naw Th’Ri Township that is frequently accessed by Tatmadaw troops, and in which there is no KNLA presence. Saw C--- described human rights abuses faced by residents of his village, including: demands for forced labour; theft and looting of villagers' property; and movement restrictions that prevent villagers from accessing agricultural workplaces. He also cited an incident in which a villager was shot and killed by Tatmadaw soldiers while fishing in a nearby river, and his death subsequently concealed; and recounted abuses he witnessed when forced to porter military rations and accompany Tatmadaw soldiers during foot patrols, including the theft and looting of villagers’ property and the rape of a 50-year-old woman. Saw C--- told KHRG that villagers protect themselves in the following ways: collecting flowers from the jungle to sell in local markets in order to supplement incomes, failing to comply with orders to report to a Tatmadaw camp, and using traditional herbal remedies due to difficulties accessing healthcare. He noted, however, that these strategies can be limited, for example by threats of violence against civilians by Tatmadaw soldiers or scarcity of plants commonly used in herbal remedies."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (169K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2011/khrg11b29.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 February 2012

Title: Nyaunglebin Interview: Naw P---, May 2011
Date of publication: 26 July 2011
Description/subject: "This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted by a KHRG researcher in May 2011 with a villager from Ler Doh Township, Nyaunglebin District. The researcher interviewed Naw P---, a 40-year-old farmer who described her experiences living in a Tatmadaw-controlled relocation site, and in her original village in a mixed-administration area under effective Tatmadaw control. Naw P--- described the following human rights abuses: rape and sexual violence; indiscriminate firing on villagers by Tatmadaw soldiers; forced relocation; arrest and detention; movement restrictions; theft and looting; and forced labour, including use of villagers as military sentries and porters. Naw P--- also raised concerns regarding the cost of health care and about children's education, specifically Tatmadaw restrictions on children's movement during perceived military instability and the prohibition of Karen-language education. In order to address these concerns, Naw P--- told KHRG that some villagers pay bribes to avoid forced labour and to secure the release of detained family members; lie to Tatmadaw commanders about the whereabouts of villagers working on farms in violation of movement restrictions; and organise covert Karen-language education for their children."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (158K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg11b18.pdf
Date of entry/update: 19 February 2012

Title: Human rights abuses and obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians amidst ongoing conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an districts
Date of publication: 21 January 2011
Description/subject: "Amidst ongoing conflict between the Tatmadaw and armed groups in eastern Dooplaya and Pa'an districts, civilians, aid workers and soldiers from state and non-state armies continue to report a variety of human rights abuses and security concerns for civilians in areas adjacent to Thailand's Tak Province, including: functionally indiscriminate mortar and small arms fire; landmines; arbitrary arrest and detention; sexual violence; and forced portering. Conflict and these conflict-related abuses have displaced thousands of civilians, more than 8,000 of whom are currently taking refuge in discreet hiding places in Thailand. This has interrupted education for thousands of children across eastern Dooplaya and Pa'an districts. The agricultural cycle for farmers has also been severely disrupted; many villagers have been prevented from completing their harvests of beans, corn and paddy crops, portending long-term threats to food security. Due to concerns about food security and disruption to children's education, as well as villagers' continuing need to protect themselves and their families from conflict and conflict-related abuse, temporary but consistent access to refuge in Thailand remains vital until villagers feel safe to return home. Even after return, food support will likely be necessary until disrupted agricultural activities can be resumed and civilians can again support themselves."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (Main text, 688K; Appendix 188K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2011/khrg11f2.pdf
http://www.khrg.org/khrg2011/khrg11f2_appendixes.pdf (Appendix)
Date of entry/update: 26 February 2012

Title: Walking Amongst Sharp Knives - The unsung courage of Karen women village chiefs in conflict areas of Eastern Burma
Date of publication: February 2010
Description/subject: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "In lowland Karen areas in Eastern Burma women are increasingly taking on the role of village chief, as male village chiefs are more likely to be killed by the Burma Army. This change, overturning deeply engrained tradition, has put women further into the front line of human rights abuses being committed by the Burma Army and their allies. This report by the Karen Women Organization, based on the testimonies of 95 women chiefs, exposes for the first time the impacts of this dramatic cultural shift. The abuses experienced or witnessed by the women chiefs include: • Crucifixion • People burnt alive • Rape, including gang rape • Many forms of torture, including beatings and “water torture” • People buried up to their heads in earth and beaten to death • Arbitrary executions • Beheadings • Slave labour... Many of the abuses described in this report would appear to be in breach of international law, including five articles of the Rome Statute, of the International Criminal Court. The practice of electing women as village chiefs has spread through lowland Karen areas of Eastern Burma since the 1980s, as Burma’s military regime has expanded control and increased persecution of these war-torn communities. With men increasingly reluctant to risk their lives as chiefs, women have stepped in to assume leadership in the hope of mitigating abuses. However, testimonies of women chiefs show that, far from being exempt from the brutality of the Burma Army, they have faced ongoing systematic abuse, including gender-based violence. This report is based on interviews with women chiefs from five districts of Eastern Burma: Papun (Mutraw), Dooplaya, Thaton (Doo Tha Htu), Nyaunglebin (Kler Lwee Htu), and Pa-an. They are aged from 25 to 82. The average length of time they served as chiefs was nine years; about one third of the women are still serving as chiefs. The women chiefs not only describe their daily struggle to fulfill the constant demands of the Burma Army for labour, food, building materials, “taxes” and intelligence, but also testify to their systematic use of terror tactics to subjugate villagers and prevent them from cooperating with the Karen resistance. Apart from bearing witness to numerous instances of abuse and murder of fellow-villagers, the chiefs themselves have suffered brutal punishment for alleged non-cooperation. One third of the women interviewed had been physically beaten or tortured. The women also testify to ongoing impunity for sexual violence. They describe incidents of gang-rape, rape of girl-children and rape-murder for which they were unable to seek redress. They also describe being forced to provide “comfort women” for the Burma Army troops. The women chiefs’ own vulnerability to gender-based violence has been deliberately exploited by the Burma Army as a means of intimidation. Rape of women chiefs was described as common, and several chiefs described being gang-raped. Pregnant and nursing women chiefs were also subjected to forced labour and grueling interrogation. Despite the constant threat of violence, the women’s stories reveal their extraordinary strength and courage in assuming leadership and seeking to protect the rights of their communities. They have repeatedly dared to challenge and complain to Burma Army troops about abuses and in some cases managed to secure compensation and even rescinding of unjust orders. The women chiefs have also suffered great personal stress from being unable to fulfill their traditional household roles and care for their families. Several were blamed by their husbands for being “married to the SPDC” because they had to follow their orders. This report provides poignant insight into the challenges of women assuming leadership in a patriarchal and militarized society. The KWO hopes that this report will help bring recognition of these brave women for their sacrifices not only at the front line of abuses by Burma’s military dictatorship, but at the forefront of the struggle for gender equality in Burma..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma library
Format/size: pdf (2.31MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs08/WalkingAmongstSharpKnives.pdf
Date of entry/update: 25 February 2010

Title: Mortar attacks, landmines and the destruction of schools in Papun District
Date of publication: 22 August 2008
Description/subject: "SPDC abuses against civilians continue in northern Karen State, especially in Lu Thaw township of Papun District. Because these villagers live within non-SPDC-controlled "black areas", the SPDC believes it has justification to attack IDP hiding sites and destroy civilian crops, cattle and property. These attacks, combined with the SPDC and KNLA's continued use of landmines, have caused dozens of injuries and deaths in Papun District alone. Such attacks target the fabric of Karen society, breaking up communities and compromising the educations of Karen youth. In spite of these hardships, the local villagers continue to be resourceful in providing security for their families and education for their children. This report covers events in Papun District from May to July 2008..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Reports (KHRG #2008-F12)
Format/size: html, pdf (687 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg08f12.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 November 2009

Title: State of terror: women at risk
Date of publication: 22 April 2008
Description/subject: Two reports researched and written by the Karen Women’s Organisation – Shattering Silences in 2004 and State of Terror in 20071 – document the wide range of human rights abuses against Burmese women and girls.
Language: English, Burmese
Source/publisher: The Karen Women’s Organisation via "Forced Migration Review" No. 30
Format/size: pdf (Burmese,132K; English, 266K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR30Burmese/12.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 November 2008

Title: State of Terror
Date of publication: February 2007
Description/subject: The ongoing rape, murder, torture and forced labour suffered by women living under the Burmese Military Regime in Karen State... Executive Summary: "This report, "State of Terror" clearly documents the range of human rights abuses that continue to be perpetrated across Karen State as part of the SPDC’s sustained campaign of terror. The report focuses in particular on the abuses experienced by women and girls and draws on over 40001 documented cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by the SPDC. These case studies provide shocking evidence of the entrenched and widespread abuses perpetrated against the civilian population of Karen State by the Burmese Military Regime. Many of the recent accounts of human rights violations which occurred in late 2005 and 2006 provide irrefutable evidence that the SPDC’s attacks during this period have increased and have deliberately targeted the civilian population. The recent dramatic increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) as well as in those crossing the border in search of asylum, bears further testimony to the escalation of attacks on the civilian women, men and children of Karen State. The report builds on the findings contained in "Shattering Silences", published by the Karen Women’s Organisation in April 2004. That report detailed the alarmingly high number of women and girls who have been raped by the military during the years of the SPDC’s occupation of Karen State. This new report documents the range of other human rights abuses experienced by Karen women and girls, in particular those of forced labour and forced portering. The report locates these atrocities within a human rights framework, to show the direct link of accountability the SPDC bears for the violations committed in these cases. It also demonstrates the multiplicity of human rights violations occurring, as forced labour is often committed in conjunction with other human rights violations such as rape, beating, mutilation, torture, murder, denial of rights to food, water and shelter, and denial of the right to legal redress. These human rights abuses occur as part of a strategy designed to terrorise and subjugate the Karen people, to completely destroy their culture and communities. This report demonstrates very clearly that it is the women who bear the greatest burden of these systematic attacks, as they are doubly oppressed both on the grounds of their ethnicity and their gender. Attacks have continued in spite of the informal ceasefire agreement reached with the SPDC in January 2004. It is clear that rather than honouring the agreement, the SPDC have proceeded with systematic reinforcement of their military infrastructure across Karen State, bringing in more troops, increasing their stocks of food and ammunition and building army camps across the state. From this position of increased strength the SPDC have conducted ongoing attacks on villages across Karen State since September 2005. As this report goes to press over one year later, it is clear that rather than abating, the intensity of these attacks has only increased. Karen women and children continue to be killed and raped by SPDC soldiers, are subjected to forced labour, including portering, and are displaced from their homes. In the first half of 2006 alone KWO received reports of almost 5,000 villagers being taken as forced labourers, with over five times that many being forcibly relocated from their villages as their farms, homes and rice paddies were burned. As a consequence, increasing numbers of refugees are fleeing across the border into Thailand and many, many more are internally displaced. The world now knows the full extent of human rights violations being committed by the SPDC, particularly against women and children from the ethnic groups across Burma. The situation is past critical. The international community must take immediate action to stop these most grave atrocities."
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Karen Women
Format/size: pdf (673K-reduced versioin; 1.8MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.womenofburma.org/Statement&Release/state_of_terror_report.pdf
Date of entry/update: 13 February 2007

Title: Dignity in the Shadow of Oppression - The abuse and agency of Karen women under militarisation
Date of publication: 22 November 2006
Description/subject: "As the State Peace and Development council continues with its aggressive campaign to expand military control over all areas of Karen State, local villagers confront brutal and systematic abuses perpetrated by the junta's armed forces. In light of such abuse, external representations of Karen women have fallen back on stereotypes of women in armed conflict which depict nothing but their helplessness and vulnerability. The findings of this report, however, demonstrate that such representations can be both inaccurate and harmful. They miss the many ways in which Karen women are actively responding to abuse and resisting militarisation, and furthermore undermine local women's attempts to determine for themselves how they, their families and communities are to develop. Such portrayals foster external perceptions and intervention that neglect local concerns and the strategies that these women are already employing to claim their rights. In this report, KHRG examines the patterns of military abuses against Karen women, the many ways these have affected their lives, the manner in which these women have responded to abuse and the ways that this relationship between military abuse and women's agency has led to changes in the roles of women in Karen society...."
Language: English, Karen
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG #2006-05)
Format/size: pdf (2MB-English; 1.5MB -Karen)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2006/khrg0605.pdf
Date of entry/update: 15 March 2008

Title: SHATTERING SILENCES: Karen Women speak out about the Burmese Military Regime’s use of Rape as a Strategy of War in Karen State
Date of publication: 02 April 2004
Description/subject: "This report, “Shattering Silences” clearly documents the widespread and systematic rape being committed by the Burmese military against Karen women in Burma. Most of these incidents have been committed with impunity, creating a climate of fear for Karen women in Burma. The cases reported demonstrate how rape is actively being used as a strategy by the SPDC military to intimidate, control, shame and ethnically cleanse Karen groups in Burma. Despite the current “ceasefire talks” between the SPDC and the Karen National Union (KNU), the SPDC has continued to perpetrate human rights violations against Karen people in Karen State. At the time of publication in April 2004, Karen women continue to be killed and raped by SPDC soldiers, forced to work as porters and forced from their homes. This is the first report that focuses on the atrocities being committed by the SLORC/SPDC military against the Karen women. The report explores the patterns of rapes committed against the Karen women by the SLORC/SPDC soldiers and the effects on the women and their families. The report locates these atrocities within a human rights framework, to show the direct link of accountability the SPDC bears for the violations committed in these cases. It also demonstrates the multiplicity of human rights violations occurring, as the rape of women is often committed in conjunction with other human rights violations such as beating, mutilation, torture, murder, forced labour, denial of rights to food, water and shelter, and denial of the right to legal redress. These rapes occur as part of a strategy designed to terrorize and subjugate the Karen people, to completely destroy their culture and communities. This report demonstrates very clearly that it is the women who bear the greatest burden of these systematic attacks, as they are doubly oppressed both on the grounds of their ethnicity and their gender. Many foreign governments continue talking about Burma as a country which simply lacks democratic systems. In fact, Burma not only lacks democratic principles and institutions, but also has the worst kind of authoritarian regime - one that commits atrocities against its own people, on a scale that amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. In their speaking out here against the SLORC/SPDC soldiers and commanders who have raped them, the women of courage who have shared their stories have shattered the silences behind which their rapists have hidden. The shame was and is not the women’s to bear but lies instead with every soldier and commander who has raped Karen women and girls and with the Burmese military regime who continues to allow these gross violations of women’s human rights to continue with impunity. As the world comes to realize the full extent of human rights violations being committed by the SPDC, particularly against women from ethnic nationalities, the actions members of the international community take to address this issue becomes critical..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Karen Women's Organization (KWO)
Format/size: html (964K), Word (1.1MB), pdf (1.9MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.womenofburma.org/Report/Shattering_Silences.doc
Date of entry/update: 01 April 2004

Title: Torture of Karen Women by SLORC
Date of publication: 16 February 1993
Description/subject: Story or three women totured by SLORC
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) Regional & Thematic Reports
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.karenhumanrightsgroup.org/khrg93/93_02_16b.html
Date of entry/update: 14 November 2009