The Women’s League of Burma (WLB) released a report on Tuesday revealing the Burmese Army’s continued, systematic rape of girls and women since the country’s 2010 elections. The Thailand-based group documented over 100 rapes in its report, Same Impunity, Same Patterns, but believes these are only a small fraction of the rapes and that there have likely been hundreds more that have not been reported.
Overall, 47 of the reported cases were gang rapes, and 28 victims died from internal injuries after the rapes. Some of the victims were as young as eight years old. Most of the cases have been clearly linked to military offensives against ethnic minority Kachin and Shan insurgents in the northeast of Burma, also known as Myanmar. And many of the perpetrators have been high-ranking officials in the Burmese military.
“These crimes are more than random, isolated acts by rogue soldiers,” WLB writes. “Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern: rape is still used as an instrument of war and oppression . . . Sexual violence is used as a tool by the Burmese military to demoralize and destroy ethnic communities.”
WLB argues that these actions go against international treaties Burma has signed as well as it’s own penal code that punishes rapists. To create change, WLB suggests putting the military under civilian judicial control so it can be held accountable for its crimes. It is currently independently in charge of administering its affairs. The group also suggests involving more women in the nation’s peace process, signing the international Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict [PDF], and adopting laws aimed at protecting women from violence.
Media Resources: The Women’s League of Burma 1/14/14; Al Jazeera 1/14/14; Women’s Media Center 1/14/14; United Nations 10/2/14; Gov.uk