BURMA: Burmese Rape Victims Speak Out

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Inter Press Service (IPS)
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

“Seven Burmese military soldiers attacked me and three of my friends,” says Chang Chang, from the Northern Kachin State of Burma. That was when her life going to school and working on the family farm was shattered.

Chang Chang is one of 12 courageous women from Burma who have come to the CSW to share their stories in front of a special International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma.

In a firm voice, Chang Chang told a touched audience how she was abused and threatened by the soldiers. “We were raped all night. It was very dark, so it was hard to know exactly how many soldiers raped us. I remembered seven of them… Seven raped me.”

After The Burmese BBC service broadcast a report that captains from Battalion 138 had raped 4 girls under 18, the Myanmar Women Affairs Federation come and took the girls from their homes – all of them were sentenced to one-year's imprisonment for violating rules of prostitution. The soldiers went unpunished.

Rutha, 22, was five months pregnant when she was taken by the soldiers. The troops caught her and a group of other girls from Pyin Oo Lwin township. “When night fell, a soldier came to get me and took me to a room. I told him I was pregnant and begged him not to do any harm, but he did not listen.”

Thousands of women in Burma reportedly suffer daily at the hands of the ruling military junta. Rape, sexual violence, forced labour, torture, imprisonment and forced relocation are common events that these brave women face.

“This people's tribunal will raise international visibility of the situation of women in Burma,” according to the Nobel Women's Initiative and the Women's League of Burma who have brought the 12 testimonies to New York. “It will also allow the world a glimpse of the strength of the women of Burma as builders of democracy. They are testifying in the hopes that their act will lead to real change.”

“Burma is isolated and people are living in silence,” Lway Aye Nang, general secretary of the Women's League of Burma, tells Terraviva. “It's important for the world to take action against Burma.”

She said these women are being sexually violated by their own government, their own regime, which is supposed to be helping them. “The only way to deal with this is to put the pressure on to the regime and hold the government of Burma accountable for all these crimes.”

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the testifiers.