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A women's group says the military in Myanmar is still using rape as a weapon of war, with more than 100 women and girls raped by the army since a 2010 election brought about a nominally civilian government that has pursued rapprochement with the West.
The Burmese army has been following a policy of systematically raping women and girls to subjugate the country's rebellious ethnic minorities, according to a new report.
The latest conflict between the militant Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese military reveals widespread use of rape by the military as a psychological weapon.
By breaking their silence, and documenting the outrages committed, local communities in Kachin are defending themselves against sexual violence from the Burmese military and police.
Three Chinese women were gang-raped Friday by Burmese soldiers under Burma Army's Military Operation Command-3 (MOC-3). The commander of MOC-3 is Brig-Gen Myat Kyaw and the troops are under the direct control of Northern Regional Command (NRC), based in Myitkyina, in Kachin State, referring officials from Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Kachin News Group said.
It has been three years since the report ''License to Rape" exposed to the world how troops of the Burmese military regime have been committing systematic sexual violence against women in Shan state, one of the ethnic regions of Burma where civil war has been continuing for more than four decades.
When independent researchers fanned out across military-ruled Myanmar's mountainous Chin State to catalogue human-rights abuses, they expected to hear the usual disturbing stories of ethnic minority women being raped by government troops. But the research uncovered an unexpected new trend of abuse: Chin men were also being sexually violated by male soldiers in the country's remote northwestern corner.
Despite efforts to initiate a ceasefire negotiation on June 17 and 30 by means of meetings between representatives of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese government, fresh clashes between the KIA and Burma armed forces took place on July 2 and 3 in different parts of the Kachin State, Kachin News Group has reported.
As Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein travels around Burma trying to garner support for the Democratic Party (DP), she is met with admiration and respect. The 62-year-old admits that she owes much of this adulation to her father and former deputy prime minister, the late Kyaw Nyein.
In a fraught coincidence, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be chairing a United Nations Security Council session on violence against women in conflict situations today, on the 63d birthday of Burma's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. That devotee of nonviolence has been kept under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years by a military junta that has committed the vilest crimes against women.
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While Aung San Suu Kyi enjoys iconic status in Myanmar (also known as Burma), women remain invisible in this country steeped in Buddhist tradition and emerging from decades of military rule.
While some members of the last Commission have courted controversy with their employment, former Commissioner Margot Wallstrom has become the UN Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict on a recent stop to Brussels she spoke to Andy Carling.
In military-ruled Burma's Karen state, tradition and a male-dominated social order have long guaranteed men the role of village chiefs. But this order is crumbling in the country's eastern region, giving rise to the new phenomenon of women village chiefs.
While Aung San Suu Kyi remains the most widely-known woman suppressed for her political views in Burma, the jails in that military-ruled country continue to be filled by lesser-known women dissidents being held on a range of questionable charges.
Although still under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has returned to an active political role by initiating dialogue with both Myanmar's junta and Western nations, analysts say.
In the space of seven days, after a Yangon court rejected the pro-democracy leader's appeal against her recently extended house arrest, her status appeared to shift rapidly from political prisoner to potential key negotiator.
Women who have fled Burma to escape what they describe as systematic violence against women by the military have banded together to help other survivors.
Last week, their work was recognized by the Peter Gruber Foundation, which awarded them $200,000 and the 2005 International Women's Rights Prize. The award was given jointly to the Shan Women's Action Network and the Women's League of Burma.
The rape and sexual harassment of three stateless Rohingya Muslim women caused last week's deadly brawl between Burmese and Rohingya refugees at an immigration centre on Sumatra, an Indonesian police report said.
The hostilities between the Burmese military and ethnic Kachin get worse every day and the abuses are much worse than reported by the news media based outside the country.
As well as preventing sexual violence, assisting survivors of sexual violence in conflict has been a big theme at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, held in London this week. I was invited to take part in an expert panel on this subject at the summit, along with senior officials from the United Nations.
The PeaceWomen Team
As we publish this September edition of the PeaceWomen 1325 E-News, the attention of the world is turned to events unfolding in Burma.
Women in Myanmar face barriers to living informed and healthy lives. Myanmar is plagued with a lack of education on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV and gender based violence. Cultural taboos, language barriers and vast expanses of rural areas pose a great challenge in spreading vital information, especially to young women.