Rape as a Weapon of War in Myanmar

From VOA, an aspect of the repression in Myanmar that has not attracted the same level of attention as did the government’s blocking of foreign aid after Cyclone Nargis:

Cheery Zahau, a member of Burma’s Chin minority, says members of the Burmese army rape women in ethnic minority areas all over the country. She says in Burma’s western Chin State alone, at least 38 cases of sexual violence were committed by soldiers in 2006. The youngest victim was only 12.

“The soldiers are raping women to punish the populations who they suspect of supporting insurgency groups,” she said. “And also they rape the women to disturb the faith and psychological welfare of these ethnic women. For example in 2003, a woman was raped by four soldiers on her way back home from the market. Until now she is mentally disturbed.”

In light of the UN Security Council’s recent — if long-overdue — resolution officially condemning rape as a weapon of war, this testimony reveals yet another example of a conflict zone marred by rampant, targeted sexual violence against women.

The situation in Myanmar following Nargis may have slipped off the radar of the mainstream press, but the same ruling military junta remains, using the same reprehensible tactics to terrorize its people. Humanitarian support is still desperately needed to aid those suffering from the cyclone’s destruction, and such a systematized, state-organized campaign of rape will require a sustained effort from the UN and its Member States.