News / Asia

Burmese Military Accused of Committing Sexual Violence

Julia Marip (Nobel Women's Initiative)
Julia Marip (Nobel Women's Initiative)
VOA News
A senior official with a women's rights group in Burma, also known as Myanmar, says the Burmese military is committing acts of sexual violence in conflict-ridden ethnic regions of the country.

In an interview with VOA Wednesday, Julia Marip of the Women's League of Burma said such acts are happening despite the country's transition to a civilian government and its recent democratic reforms.

Marip made her remarks one day after the league issued a report documenting more than 100 cases of sexual violence committed by the military since 2010, including 47 gang rapes with victims as young as age eight.

The report said such acts are happening in areas where Burma's minority ethnic groups are fighting the military.

The government denies that rape is being used as a tool of war, but Marip says women and girls are being targeted for sexual violence with "impunity."

"This is really, really seriously happening in the ethnic areas.  And the military is still attacking to the ethnic area because … they really want to control the ethnic area.  These ethnic areas have rich natural resources, so that means they take the security and the control of the ethnic areas.  Because of these military attacks, most women have been targeted for sexual violence.  This is happening widespread with impunity," said Marip.

Her organization's report said the crimes are not random events, but part of a "widespread and systematic pattern of sexual violence."  The report said that since 2010, Burma's government has conducted peace talks with ethnic groups, but has failed to address the sexual violence or "hold perpetrators accountable."

The report points out that rape is a crime under Burmese law.  But Marip said the attackers are not being held accountable because of what she described as a 2008 constitutional provision that grants amnesty to those accused.

"And in this 2008 constitution, they guarantee the protection for the crimes that they have committed, and then 25 percent of parliament seats are reserved for the military.  So that means they don’t fear anything because they got special guarantee from the 2008 constitution," she said.

Marip also said the victims are scared to speak out, for fear of retaliation.

“It is very, very difficult to get the document, actually, because they have been threatened not to speak out against these crimes that have been committed.  Then their family member is also threatened, so mostly people, women, who have faced these crimes not like to speak out," she said.

The Women's League of Burma, which consists of 13 organizations representing ethnic areas in the country, is urging an end to these crimes, calling them "atrocities."  It says sexual abuses by the army will not stop until there is "a genuine civilian government" in Burma.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More