Spotlight on Burma

Written by Maria Butler

On April 24, PeaceWomen attended and supported (as part of our Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Coalition) an important side-event to the Security Council's annual Open Debate on conflict-related sexual violence, which focused on the continuing sexual violence committed by the military against ethnic women in Burma. Naw K'nyaw Paw, Secretary of the Karen Women's Organization, presented reports on sexual violence and underlined the links with the exclusion of women from the national ceasefire talks. Ms. Paw called directly for international investigation of the use of rape and sexual violence in Burma and for women to be included in the political processes. She highlighted to the audience of international advocates and policymakers that “sexual violence is a deeply neglected issue, which is too often covered under a veil of silence in Burma in order to not ‘threaten' any reforms or progress.” Underlining the links with militarism in Burma, Janet Benshoof, President of the Global Justice Center, stated that “without amending the Constitution to bring the military under the control of the civilian government, the women of Burma will continue to suffer.” The Ambassador of Ireland to UN and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura also participated. The event was co-hosted by the Nobel Women's Initiative, the Global Justice Center, Amnesty International and the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. On April 25 at the Open Debate of the Security Council, it was powerful to have the NGO Civil Society speaker from South Sudan, Rhoda Misaka acknowledge Naw K'nyaw Paw from Burma as another women's human rights defender in the room. Some Member States and some UN officials pushed back on having a speaker from Burma in the Open Debate. However, her participation in the side event brought much needed attention to addressing sexual violence in forgotten conflicts and every region of the world.


Read more about the recent events highlighting the issue of sexual violence in the Global Justice Center Press Release.