VL.png The World-Wide Web Virtual Library
[WWW VL database || WWW VL search]
donations.gif asia-wwwvl.gif

Online Burma/Myanmar Library

Full-Text Search | Database Search | What's New | Alphabetical List of Subjects | Main Library | Reading Room | Burma Press Summary

Home > Main Library > Internal conflict > Internal conflict in Burma > Women and armed conflict > Women and armed conflict - Burma/Myanmar

Order links by: Reverse Date Title

Women and armed conflict - Burma/Myanmar

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Gender (Category archive from BurmaNet News)
Date of publication: 01 March 2016
Description/subject: Articles on this category from BurmaNet News to October 2016
Language: English
Source/publisher: BurmaNet News
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 March 2016


Title: Discrimination/violence against women: reports of violations in Burma
Description/subject: Link to the Violence Against Women/Burma Myanmar page in the OBL Human Rights section.
Language: English, Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
Source/publisher: Online Burma/Myanmar Library
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 26 November 2014


Title: Women's League of Burma (WLB)
Description/subject: Well-designed site containing several substantial reports, links, profiles of member organisations, etc. Members: Kachin Women's Association - Thailand (KWAT); Karen Women's Organization (KWO); Kuki Women's Human Rights Organization (KWHRO); Lahu Women's Organization (LWO); Palaung Women's Organization (PWO); Pa-O Women's Union (PWU); Rakhaing Women's Union (RWU); Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN); Tavoy Women's Union (TWU); Women's Rights & Welfare Association of Burma (WRWAB)... "The Women's League of Burma (WLB) is an umbrella organization comprising 11 already-existing women's organizations of different ethnic backgrounds from Burma. WLB was founded on December 9,1999. Its mission is to work for women's empowerment and advancement of the status of women, and to work for the increased participation of women in all spheres of society in the democracy movement, and in peace and national reconciliation processes through capacity building, advocacy, research and documentation... Aims: * To work for the empowerment and development of women. * To encourage women's participation in decision-making in all spheres of life. * To enable women to participate effectively in the movement for peace, democracy and national reconciliation. By working together, and encouraging cooperation between the different groups, the Women's League of Burma hopes to build trust, solidarity and mutual understanding among women of all nationalities in Burma.".... The site also contains statements made by WLB representatives at various regional and international meetings including the Commission on Human Rights and the World Conference Against Racism.
Language: English, (links in Burmese, Thai)
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 28 October 2003


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/k_briefer_final_resize.pdf
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: Long Way to Go - Continuing Violations of Human Rights and Discrimination Against Ethnic Women in Burma: CEDAW Shadow Report (English)
Date of publication: July 2016
Description/subject: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "From 1962 to 2011 in Burma, the combination of repressive rule by a male-dominated military and a traditional cultural patriarchy had insidious and pervasive long-term negative effects on women’s equality. Decades of repression adversely impacted women’s health, well-being and welfare, ability to participate in politics and political decision-making, and educational, economic and employment opportunities. Moreover, during those six decades the military also waged war in several regions of Burma against various Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and conflict continues to this day. These long-running conflicts h ave been characterized by human rights abuses against ethnic communities, including se xual violence against ethnic women, and have had a devastating negative impact on the rights and opportunities available to ethnic women. In 2011, the military instituted a process of reform as part of a carefully-orchestrated plan to continue military rule under the guise of democracy. Since this nominally- civilian government (the Government) took power in 2011, women in Burma have experienced limited improvements with respect to fundamental human rights and freedoms but are far from enjoying the rights required by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), to which Burma is a party. After years of “reform,” significant economic, political and social problems for women remain: widespread poverty and underdevelopment; a lack of legal, administrative and institutional capacity; a governing system that continues to lack true accountability and transparency; ongoing ethnic conflict, including continued human rights abuses and sexual violence by military forces; and pervasive gender inequality. The failure, after five years in office, of the Government to improve women’s rights to substantive equality and non-discrimination demonstrates a disregard for CEDAW’s mandates and compares unfavorably with troubling actions such as continuing sexual violence by the military, the swift passage of the discriminatory Laws on Race & Religion, and the failure to enact a comprehensive violence against women law. This Report focuses the women's human rights situation in Burma's ethnic areas, in particular in remote and conflict affected areas where most of WLB’s member organisations are operating. We highlight the ways in which rural and ethnic women in Burma are denied the equality and non-discrimination guarantees provided by CEDAW. While all women in Burma face the same struggle to enjoy their rights under CEDAW, rural and ethnic women face additional hurdles and specific harms such as trafficking, unequal access to education and healthcare, land insecurity and the devastating impact of drug production and trade. Moreover, rural and ethnic women are directly implicated by armed conflict and the quest for peace. This gap between the experiences of women in cities and urban settings versus those of ethic women in rural areas must be understood and taken account when analyzing the status of women’s rights in Burma. This Report seeks to highlight certain significant factors impeding women’s rights throughout the country. First, the military continues to play a powerful role in society and politics. This deeply-entrenched power is provided, in part, by the 2008 Constitution which grants the military complete legal autonomy over its own affairs, placing it outside of any civilian oversight by the executive or legislative branches. Further, the Constitution provides immunity to the military and Government officials for any misdeeds, including conflict-related sexual violence, in office and ensures that all military matters are to be decided solely by the military. Other provisions, such as Parliamentary quotas, ensure that the Military will retain a significant role in the legislative and executive branches. Therefore, the power and domination of the military at all levels of government is guaranteed in the Constitution, and, because the Military enjoys a veto over all Constitutional amendments, this power is unlikely to be reduced in the near future. Second, continued conflict has caused additional suffering for ethnic and rural women. The military has committed human rights abuses, including sexual violence against ethnic women, as part of its offensives in ethnic areas. Part of the conflict stems from a desire to control the vast natural resources in ethnic areas, and the military and its cronies have long-standing and extensive business interests in ethnic regions. Continuing conflict, and the web of military presence and business interests in ethnic areas, has had a devastating effect on women and women’s rights, especially in rural and ethnic areas. Third, part of the lack of progress on women’s equality is due to the woefully inadequate legal system in Burma. First and foremost, the Constitution itself establishes structural barriers to equality, and discriminates outright against women through failing to provide a CEDAW-compliant definition of discrimination and limiting job opportunities for women. It also discriminates against women indirectly by establishing the Parliamentary quotas for the military. Most of the laws that relate specifically to women are outdated, such as the Penal Code of 1861, and many laws, regulations, and policies (including customary law) are disadvantageous and discriminatory towards women. Laws passed since 2011 often did not take women’s concerns into account and some, such as the Laws on Race & Religion, are discriminatory outright. Women also do not enjoy protection from anti-discrimination legislation or a comprehensive violence against women law, which is of particular concern for women victims of conflict-related sexual violence. Moreover, even legal and other rights that are available on paper are often not enforced due to corruption in the legal system, the police force and other governmental authorities. These failures are compounded by a judiciary that is unreliable, susceptible to military influence and corruption, and often unwilling to enforce the rule of law. Outside of the formal legal system, the application of customary laws which are prevalent in rural and ethnic areas can also impede women’s access to justice. These factors present serious obstacles to women’s ability to know or enforce their rights. It is hoped that ensuring women’s equality will be a greater focus of the new NLD-led Government that came to power in April 2016. Given the structural barriers established by the military, including those in the Constitution, reducing the power and influence of the military will be a challenge. To encourage the new Government on the path to ensuring human rights, and women’s rights, it is crucial to provide it with guidelines and signposts for action. Forums such as this CEDAW review are essential to establishing benchmarks for women’s rights and equality, as promised by CEDAW. Rights under CEDAW should be made available, without restriction or further delay, to every woman and girl in Burma, regardless of her region, religion, or ethnicity."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: pdf (3.1MB)
Date of entry/update: 18 July 2016


Title: Long Way to Go - Continuing Violations of Human Rights and Discrimination Against Ethnic Women in Burma: CEDAW Shadow Report - Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: July 2016
Description/subject: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "From 1962 to 2011 in Burma, the combination of repressive rule by a male-dominated military and a traditional cultural patriarchy had insidious and pervasive long-term negative effects on women’s equality. Decades of repression adversely impacted women’s health, well-being and welfare, ability to participate in politics and political decision-making, and educational, economic and employment opportunities. Moreover, during those six decades the military also waged war in several regions of Burma against various Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and conflict continues to this day. These long-running conflicts h ave been characterized by human rights abuses against ethnic communities, including se xual violence against ethnic women, and have had a devastating negative impact on the rights and opportunities available to ethnic women. In 2011, the military instituted a process of reform as part of a carefully-orchestrated plan to continue military rule under the guise of democracy. Since this nominally- civilian government (the Government) took power in 2011, women in Burma have experienced limited improvements with respect to fundamental human rights and freedoms but are far from enjoying the rights required by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), to which Burma is a party. After years of “reform,” significant economic, political and social problems for women remain: widespread poverty and underdevelopment; a lack of legal, administrative and institutional capacity; a governing system that continues to lack true accountability and transparency; ongoing ethnic conflict, including continued human rights abuses and sexual violence by military forces; and pervasive gender inequality. The failure, after five years in office, of the Government to improve women’s rights to substantive equality and non-discrimination demonstrates a disregard for CEDAW’s mandates and compares unfavorably with troubling actions such as continuing sexual violence by the military, the swift passage of the discriminatory Laws on Race & Religion, and the failure to enact a comprehensive violence against women law. This Report focuses the women's human rights situation in Burma's ethnic areas, in particular in remote and conflict affected areas where most of WLB’s member organisations are operating. We highlight the ways in which rural and ethnic women in Burma are denied the equality and non-discrimination guarantees provided by CEDAW. While all women in Burma face the same struggle to enjoy their rights under CEDAW, rural and ethnic women face additional hurdles and specific harms such as trafficking, unequal access to education and healthcare, land insecurity and the devastating impact of drug production and trade. Moreover, rural and ethnic women are directly implicated by armed conflict and the quest for peace. This gap between the experiences of women in cities and urban settings versus those of ethic women in rural areas must be understood and taken account when analyzing the status of women’s rights in Burma. This Report seeks to highlight certain significant factors impeding women’s rights throughout the country. First, the military continues to play a powerful role in society and politics. This deeply-entrenched power is provided, in part, by the 2008 Constitution which grants the military complete legal autonomy over its own affairs, placing it outside of any civilian oversight by the executive or legislative branches. Further, the Constitution provides immunity to the military and Government officials for any misdeeds, including conflict-related sexual violence, in office and ensures that all military matters are to be decided solely by the military. Other provisions, such as Parliamentary quotas, ensure that the Military will retain a significant role in the legislative and executive branches. Therefore, the power and domination of the military at all levels of government is guaranteed in the Constitution, and, because the Military enjoys a veto over all Constitutional amendments, this power is unlikely to be reduced in the near future. Second, continued conflict has caused additional suffering for ethnic and rural women. The military has committed human rights abuses, including sexual violence against ethnic women, as part of its offensives in ethnic areas. Part of the conflict stems from a desire to control the vast natural resources in ethnic areas, and the military and its cronies have long-standing and extensive business interests in ethnic regions. Continuing conflict, and the web of military presence and business interests in ethnic areas, has had a devastating effect on women and women’s rights, especially in rural and ethnic areas. Third, part of the lack of progress on women’s equality is due to the woefully inadequate legal system in Burma. First and foremost, the Constitution itself establishes structural barriers to equality, and discriminates outright against women through failing to provide a CEDAW-compliant definition of discrimination and limiting job opportunities for women. It also discriminates against women indirectly by establishing the Parliamentary quotas for the military. Most of the laws that relate specifically to women are outdated, such as the Penal Code of 1861, and many laws, regulations, and policies (including customary law) are disadvantageous and discriminatory towards women. Laws passed since 2011 often did not take women’s concerns into account and some, such as the Laws on Race & Religion, are discriminatory outright. Women also do not enjoy protection from anti-discrimination legislation or a comprehensive violence against women law, which is of particular concern for women victims of conflict-related sexual violence. Moreover, even legal and other rights that are available on paper are often not enforced due to corruption in the legal system, the police force and other governmental authorities. These failures are compounded by a judiciary that is unreliable, susceptible to military influence and corruption, and often unwilling to enforce the rule of law. Outside of the formal legal system, the application of customary laws which are prevalent in rural and ethnic areas can also impede women’s access to justice. These factors present serious obstacles to women’s ability to know or enforce their rights. It is hoped that ensuring women’s equality will be a greater focus of the new NLD-led Government that came to power in April 2016. Given the structural barriers established by the military, including those in the Constitution, reducing the power and influence of the military will be a challenge. To encourage the new Government on the path to ensuring human rights, and women’s rights, it is crucial to provide it with guidelines and signposts for action. Forums such as this CEDAW review are essential to establishing benchmarks for women’s rights and equality, as promised by CEDAW. Rights under CEDAW should be made available, without restriction or further delay, to every woman and girl in Burma, regardless of her region, religion, or ethnicity."
Language: Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: pdf (2.7MB)
Date of entry/update: 18 July 2016


Title: Women in Conflict and Peace (Myanmar Chapter + whole book)
Date of publication: 27 January 2016
Description/subject: Abstract: "Based on primary interviews conducted with women involved in the Kachin armed resistance movement and in Kachin women’s peace networks, this article explores the many roles women play in the armed conflict in Myanmar, highlighting how identities shaped by ethnicity, religion, gender and class influence participation in the armed struggle and inform women’s actions. This article will show how, in Kachin state, the reasons why women from religious- and ethnic-minority groups enlist in ethno-political organizations include experiences of oppression, a dearth of social services, poverty, gender- based violence and nationalism. In other words, these women’s participation in the armed struggle is motivated largely by political and ideological purposes closely related to their identities as members of ethnic and religious minorities. Interestingly, this also seems to inform the motivations of women who join the peace movement, and who advocate the inclusion of women in public deliberations on the conflict and for an end to the war. This means that women have expectations for what peace and security means to them, and as political agents, are able to act on their motivations if needed. This research will bring to the forefront the narratives of religious- and ethnic-minority women in Myanmar, who are typically sidelined from public discussions and state-building exercises in post-conflict settings. In doing so, it will highlight their expectations for political action and settlements, enhancing and broadening analyses of the conflict in Myanmar".....This entry contains the full text of the report (which has chapters on Afghanistan, Myanmar, Philippines and Rwanda) plus the individual chapter on Myanmar in Burmese and English.
Author/creator: Author of Myanmar chapter, Jenny Hedström...Full report: Jenny Hedström, Thiyumi Senarathna, Rosalie Arcala Hall, Sara E. Brown, Jenny Hedström, Anna Larson, Joanna Pares Hoarer
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: International Idea
Format/size: pdf (212K (Myanmar chapter; 708K-whole book- reduced; 832K-original
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/IDEA-2015-Women-in-Conflict-and-Peace-Selected-Chapters-Myanmar-...
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/IDEA-2015-Women-in-Conflict-and-Peace-red.pdf (full report)
http://www.idea.int/publications/women-in-conflict-and-peace/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&p... (full report)
http://mizzima.com/news-domestic/report-women-conflict-and-peace-launched-myitkyina (Mizzima article)
Date of entry/update: 27 January 2016


Title: No Women, No Peace: Gender Equality, Conflict and Peace in Myanmar
Date of publication: 13 January 2016
Description/subject: Key Points: "•• Myanmar has suffered from decades of civil war and military rule. Addressing the structural roots of violence, including gendered inequality, are crucial in order to build a sustainable peace. It is essential to analyse conflict, violence and human insecurity within a social context that is shaped by gender inequality. Women are involved in and affected by civil war as victims, survivors and agents of conflict and peace in specific ways which are often different from the experiences of men... •• The role of women is critical to the achievement of peace and democracy. To create a peace and national reform process that is effective and truly inclusive, women need to participate in all levels of decision-making to prevent, manage and resolve conflict... •• International experience shows that failure to incorporate women’s gendered needs and priorities in peace agreements will greatly undermine the potential for sustainable peace. As a result of advocacy from the global women’s movement, many international agreements are now in place providing an imperative for governments to guarantee women’s rights to equitable participation in decision-making on national issues of peace and governance... •• Myanmar’s political and ethnic leaders appear to lack understanding of their responsibility to implement women’s equal rights in decision-making on peace-building and national transition. Women have mostly been excluded from high-level peace negotiations. However women are already participating in important efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation but lack official recognition for this... •• Despite facing repression and discrimination, women’s organisations have accelerated their activities in promoting the rights of women and seeking to ensure that women’s representatives achieve rightful participation in national reform, peace processes and decisions about the country’s future. Myanmar’s leaders and the international community need to demonstrate acknowledgement of these efforts and expand the opportunities for inclusive and gender-equitable decision-making in the peace and democratisation processes under way."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI)
Format/size: pdf (310K-reduced version; 323K-original)
Alternate URLs: https://www.tni.org/en/publication/no-women-no-peace-gender-equality-conflict-and-peace-in-myanmar
Date of entry/update: 13 January 2016


Title: We Have Always Been Running: Why a Young Karen Woman Chose to Become a Soldier
Date of publication: 05 October 2015
Description/subject: "Naw Mu Gay, 22, wanted to join the Karen army since a young age. Coming from a large family, Naw Mu Gay’s father found it hard to provide for everyone, having to work on a farm in order to exchange betel nut leaves for rice that was barely enough to feed his family. Attending a school far away from her village, Naw Mu Gay and her siblings had to live with their grandmother in Taungoo, seeing their parents only once a year during the school break. To help the family once her father fell ill, Naw Mu Gay had to drop out of school to work on a farm in the village. She and her family lived in constant fear of the Burma Army, often having to run to the jungle where the family would live in a broken tent, cooking only at night time when the smoke would not lead Burmese soldiers to their hideout. Naw Mu Gay grew up seeing her parents suffer amidst the conflict, and continuously having to run for their lives. This year, finally given the opportunity, Naw Mu Gay decided to join the KNDO (Karen National Defense Organisation), and says that she will rely on her fellow comrades to get through the difficult times that lay ahead."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Link
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 15 March 2016


Title: If they had hope, they would speak - The ongoing use of state sponsored sexual violence in Burma’s ethnic communities (English)
Date of publication: 24 November 2014
Description/subject: "The WLB’s new report, ‘If they had hope, they would speak’: The ongoing use of state-sponsored sexual violence in Burma’s ethnic communities’, highlights 118 incidences of gang-rape, rape, and attempted sexual assault that have been documented in Burma since 2010, in both ceasefire and non-ceasefire areas. This number is believed to be a fraction of the actual number of cases that have taken place. These abuses—which are widespread and systematic—must be investigated, and may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity under international criminal law..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma (WLB)
Subscribe: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs22/WLB-2014-11-If_they_had_hope_they_would_speak-en.pdf
Format/size: pdf (3.1MB-English)
Alternate URLs: http://womenofburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/VAW_Iftheyhadhope_TheywouldSpeak_English.pdf
http://womenofburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/VAW_Iftheyhadhope_TheywouldSpeak_Burmese.pdf (full report, Burmese)
http://womenofburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Statement_Iftheyhadhopetheywouldspeak_English.pdf (statement, English)
http://womenofburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Statement_Iftheyhadhopetheywouldspeak_Burmese.pdf (statement, Burmese)
Date of entry/update: 26 November 2014


Title: If they had hope, they would speak - The ongoing use of state sponsored sexual violence in Burma’s ethnic communities - Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 24 November 2014
Description/subject: ‘If they had hope, they would speak’: The ongoing use of state-sponsored sexual violence in Burma’s ethnic communities’, highlights 118 incidences of gang-rape, rape, and attempted sexual assault that have been documented in Burma since 2010, in both ceasefire and non-ceasefire areas. This number is believed to be a fraction of the actual number of cases that have taken place. These abuses—which are widespread and systematic—must be investigated, and may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity under international criminal law..."
Language: Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: pdf (2.9MB)
Date of entry/update: 17 July 2016


Title: Same Impunity, Same Patterns ( Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ )
Date of publication: 14 January 2014
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Almost a decade ago, the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) denounced systematic patterns of sexual crimes committed by the Burma Army against ethnic women and demanded an end to the prevailing system of impunity. Today WLB is renewing these calls. Three years after a nominally civilian government came to power; state-sponsored sexual violence continues to threaten the lives of women in Burma. Women of Burma endure a broad range of violations; this report focuses on sexual violence, as the most gendered crime. WLB and its member organizations have gathered documentation showing that over 100 women have been raped by the Burma Army since the elections of 2010. Due to restrictions on human rights documentation, WLB believes these are only a fraction of the actual abuses taking place. Most cases are linked to the military offensives in Kachin and Northern Shan States since 2011. The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) documented that 59 women have been victims of acts of sexual violence committed by Burmese soldiers. 1 The Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) reports 30 cases of sexual violence involving 35 women and girls in the past three years. 2 The incidence of rape correlates with the timing of conflict. These crimes are more than random, isolated acts by rogue soldiers. Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern: rape is still used as an instrument of war and oppression. 47 cases were brutal gang rapes, several victims were as young as 8 years old and 28 of the women were either killed or died of their injuries. Over 38 different battalions are implicated in these cases, while several battalions are involved across multiple cases and timeframes, and the incidents took place in at least 35 different townships. These rapes cannot be explained away as a human impulse gone astray. The use of sexual violence in conflict is a strategy and an act of warfare that has political and economic dimensions that go beyond individual cases. In Burma, counter- insurgency tactics designate civilians in ethnic areas as potential threats. Sexual violence is used as a tool by the Burmese military to demoralize and destroy ethnic communities. Army officers are not only passively complicit in these sexual crimes but often perpetrators themselves. Combined with blatant impunity, soldiers are given a “license to rape”, as SWAN highlighted in 2002. Several international treaties to which Burma is party, and other sources of international law applicable to Burma prohibit sexual violence; rape is also criminalized under Burma’s penal code. But neither international nor domestic laws are enforced effectively. The systematic and widespread 2 use of sexual violence by the Burma Army makes the abuses documented in this report potential war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law, requiring thorough independent investigation. It is high time for Burma’s government to take responsibility and live up to the expectations the recent changes have created, to restore the dignity that women of Burma deserve. This can only be achieved through truth and justice for the violence women endure. It necessitates not only an immediate end to the violence, but also a deep reform of Burma’s legal framework. Changing the 2008 Constitution, which gives the military the right to independently administer all its affairs, is the first step towards ensuring justice for the women of Burma. Judicial independence has to be guaranteed by the constitution, to allow for reform of the judicial system that will ensure its impartiality. The court-martial system, established by the Constitution to adjudicate all crimes committed by the military, has an unrestricted mandate and overly broad powers: it needs to be reformed to place the military under civilian judicial control. In both military and civilian jurisdictions, victims’ access to justice has to be ensured through appropriate complaint mechanisms. At the moment, the National Human Rights Commission does not have the mandate, capacity and willingness to address serious human rights violations in an independent and transparent manner. If the government is serious about its commitments to address violence against women, it should acknowledge ongoing abuses against ethnic women, sign the recent international declaration for prevention of sexual violence in conflict, and adopt laws specifically aimed at protecting women from violence. Recent proposals set out concrete requirements for effective legal protection for women. In addition, the government needs to deeply change its political approach to the peace process, in order to make it a meaningful way to end abuses. Achieving sustainable peace and putting an end to abuses against women will not happen without women’s representation in the political dialogue for peace. The fact that almost all the participants involved in the official peace process are male excludes critical perspectives on peace and conflict, and preserves structural gender inequality. 3 Moreover, it is crucial that the upcoming political dialogue addresses past human rights violations as well as the role of the army. This includes accepting that, in a free country, the military is subject to civilian authorities representing the genuine will of the people. Unless and until the military is placed under civilian control through constitutional amendments, we will not see an end to militarized sexual violence."
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: pdf (2.4MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.womenofburma.org
Date of entry/update: 15 January 2014


Title: Same Impunity, Same Patterns (English)
Date of publication: 14 January 2014
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Almost a decade ago, the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) denounced systematic patterns of sexual crimes committed by the Burma Army against ethnic women and demanded an end to the prevailing system of impunity. Today WLB is renewing these calls. Three years after a nominally civilian government came to power; state-sponsored sexual violence continues to threaten the lives of women in Burma. Women of Burma endure a broad range of violations; this report focuses on sexual violence, as the most gendered crime. WLB and its member organizations have gathered documentation showing that over 100 women have been raped by the Burma Army since the elections of 2010. Due to restrictions on human rights documentation, WLB believes these are only a fraction of the actual abuses taking place. Most cases are linked to the military offensives in Kachin and Northern Shan States since 2011. The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) documented that 59 women have been victims of acts of sexual violence committed by Burmese soldiers.1 The Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) reports 30 cases of sexual violence involving 35 women and girls in the past three years.2 The incidence of rape correlates with the timing of conflict. These crimes are more than random, isolated acts by rogue soldiers. Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern: rape is still used as an instrument of war and oppression. 47 cases were brutal gang rapes, several victims were as young as 8 years old and 28 of the women were either killed or died of their injuries. Over 38 different battalions are implicated in these cases, while several battalions are involved across multiple cases and timeframes, and the incidents took place in at least 35 different townships. These rapes cannot be explained away as a human impulse gone astray. The use of sexual violence in conflict is a strategy and an act of warfare that has political and economic dimensions that go beyond individual cases. In Burma, counterinsurgency tactics designate civilians in ethnic areas as potential threats. Sexual violence is used as a tool by the Burmese military to demoralize and destroy ethnic communities. Army officers are not only passively complicit in these sexual crimes but often perpetrators themselves. Combined with blatant impunity, soldiers are given a “license to rape”, as SWAN highlighted in 2002. Several international treaties to which Burma is party, and other sources of international law applicable to Burma prohibit sexual violence; rape is also criminalized under Burma’s penal code. But neither international nor domestic laws are enforced effectively. The systematic and widespread use of sexual violence by the Burma Army makes the abuses documented in this report potential war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law, requiring thorough independent investigation. It is high time for Burma’s government to take responsibility and live up to the expectations the recent changes have created, to restore the dignity that women of Burma deserve. This can only be achieved through truth and justice for the violence women endure. It necessitates not only an immediate end to the violence, but also a deep reform of Burma’s legal framework. Changing the 2008 Constitution, which gives the military the right to independently administer all its affairs, is the first step towards ensuring justice for the women of Burma. Judicial independence has to be guaranteed by the constitution, to allow for reform of the judicial system that will ensure its impartiality. The court-martial system, established by the Constitution to adjudicate all crimes committed by the military, has an unrestricted mandate and overly broad powers: it needs to be reformed to place the military under civilian judicial control. In both military and civilian jurisdictions, victims’ access to justice has to be ensured through appropriate complaint mechanisms. At the moment, the National Human Rights Commission does not have the mandate, capacity and willingness to address serious human rights violations in an independent and transparent manner. If the government is serious about its commitments to address violence against women, it should acknowledge ongoing abuses against ethnic women, sign the recent international declaration for prevention of sexual violence in conflict, and adopt laws specifically aimed at protecting women from violence. Recent proposals set out concrete requirements for effective legal protection for women. In addition, the government needs to deeply change its political approach to the peace process, in order to make it a meaningful way to end abuses. Achieving sustainable peace and putting an end to abuses against women will not happen without women’s representation in the political dialogue for peace. The fact that almost all the participants involved in the official peace process are male excludes critical perspectives on peace and conflict, and preserves structural gender inequality.3 Moreover, it is crucial that the upcoming political dialogue addresses past human rights violations as well as the role of the army. This includes accepting that, in a free country, the military is subject to civilian authorities representing the genuine will of the people. Unless and until the military is placed under civilian control through constitutional amendments, we will not see an end to militarized sexual violence."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: pdf (1.6K)
Alternate URLs: http://womenofburma.org/
Date of entry/update: 15 January 2014


Title: Ongoing Impunity: Continued Burma Army Atrocities Against the Kachin People
Date of publication: June 2012
Description/subject: Summary: "This report provides an update of atrocities committed by the Burma Army against civilians since it broke its 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) one year ago. It highlights the particular suffering of women during the conflict, who have been forced to be porters, used as sex slaves, gang-raped and killed. Since the start of the conflict, there has been a huge deployment of Burmese troops into Kachin State and northern Shan State. Currently about 150 battalions are being used to crush the KIA, tripling the number of Burmese troops in the area. These troops have deliberately targeted civilians for abuse, causing villagers to flee in terror, leaving large swathes of countryside depopulated. There is strong evidence that Burmese troops have used rape systematically as a weapon of war. In the past year, KWAT has documented the rape or sexual assault of at least 43 women and girls, of whom 21 were killed. The rapes have been widespread, occurred in thirteen townships, by ten different battalions. Women have been openly kept as sex slaves by military officers, and gang-raped in church. There has been complete impunity for these crimes. When the husband of a Kachin woman abducted by the Burmese military tried to press charges, the Naypyidaw Supreme Court dismissed the case without even hearing his evidence. The continued abuse against civilians has swelled the numbers of internally displaced persons in Kachin State to over 75,000, most of whom are sheltering in makeshift camps along the China border, where little international aid has reached them. KWAT is calling on the international community to denounce the ongoing human rights abuses, and maintain pressure on the Burmese government to immediately implement a nationwide ceasefire, pull back Burma Army troops from ethnic areas and start dialogue with the United Nationalities Federal Council towards a process of genuine political reform."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Kachin Women's Association Thailand (KWAT)
Format/size: pdf (1.4MB-OBL version; 8.2MB-original))
Alternate URLs: http://www.kachinwomen.com/images/stories/publication/ongoing_iimpunity%20.pdf
Date of entry/update: 11 June 2012


Title: SYSTEM OF IMPUNITY: Nationwide Patterns of Sexual Violence by the Military Regime’s Army and Authorities in Burma
Date of publication: 04 September 2004
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "This report 'System of Impunity' documents detailed accounts of sexual violence against women in all the ethnic states, as well as in central areas of Burma. These stories demonstrate patterns of continuing widespread, and systematic human rights violations being perpetrated by the regime’s armed forces and authorities. Women and girls from different ethnic groups report similar stories of rape, including gang rape; rape and murder; sexual slavery; and forced “marriage”. Significantly, almost all the incidents took place during the last two years, precisely while the regime has been repeatedly denying the prevalence of military rape in Burma. These stories bear witness to the fact that, despite the regime’s claims to the contrary, nothing has changed in Burma. Regardless of their location, be it in the civil war zones, the ceasefire areas or “non-conflict” areas, it is clear that no woman or girl is safe from rape and sexual torture under the current regime. Soldiers, captains, commanders and other SPDC officials continue to commit rape, gang rape and murder of women and children, with impunity. The documented stories demonstrate the systematic and structuralized nature of the violence, and the climate of impunity which not only enables the military to evade prosecution for rape and other crimes against civilian women, but also fosters a culture of continued and escalating violence. Even when crimes are reported no action is taken and moreover complainants are victimised, threatened or imprisoned. Women and children continue to be raped, used as sex slaves, tortured and murdered across the country by the regime’s armed forces and authorities. It is clear that the rapes and violence are not committed by rogue elements within the military but are central to the modus operandi of this regime. Structuralized and systematic human rights violations, including sexual violence, are an inevitable result of the regime’s policies of military expansion and consolidation of control by all possible means over a disenfranchised civilian population. This is why there can be no other solution to the problem of systematic sexual violence in Burma than an end to military rule. While countries in the region, members of ASEAN, and particularly Burma’s neighbours, appear willing to overlook human rights issues in their dealings with Burma, women of Burma wish to highlight that these policies of constructive engagement have grave repercussions for the citizens of Burma, particularly women and children. The political support which the regime is gaining from the region is emboldening it to continue its policies of militarization and accompanying sexual violence. It is directly placing the lives of women and girls in Burma at risk..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma (WLB)
Format/size: pdf (946K), Word (936K), 81 pages
Alternate URLs: http://www.womenofburma.org/Report/SYSTEM_OF_IMPUNITY.doc
http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/SYSTEM_OF_IMPUNITY.pdf
http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/SYSTEM_OF_IMPUNITY-1.doc
Date of entry/update: 04 September 2004


Title: Women Speak Out for Peace in Burma
Date of publication: July 1989
Language: English
Source/publisher: Project Maje
Format/size: PDF (2.31MB) 30 pages
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Lway Chee Sangar: Reclaiming Rights After a Childhood of Labor, Hardship, and Conflict
Description/subject: "“We had never heard about human rights in the village,” Lway Chee Sangar tells me at the Palaung Women’s Organization (PWO) office in Mae Sot, Thailand. Sangar is 23 years old. The ethnic nationality group to which she belongs, called the Palaung or Ta’ang, has been caught in an armed struggle for self-determination against the brutal Burmese regime for the better part of the past five decades. Sangar began working with the PWO about three years ago when her parents, desperate to give her an opportunity to improve her life, sent her from their tiny, remote village in the northern Shan State of Burma to the PWO’s former training center in China. It took her a combined six months of training at the PWO to begin to grasp the idea that all humans have rights. Sangar’s story is speckled with brushes with conflict, starting from her birth. She was born on the run, when her parents had to flee their village due to an outbreak of fighting nearby. Today, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the armed wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front, is fighting off Burmese offensives and combatting opium cultivation in Palaung areas, according to their statement. Civilians are often caught in the cross-fire. Burmese forces have been known to use brutal tactics against civilians in conflict areas, including deadly forced portering and forced labor, torture, killing, and extortion of money, supplies, and drugs."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Link
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 March 2016