Child labourer severely abused, shopkeeper receives seven-year prison sentence

June 12, 2017

On May 18th 2017, the Mawlamyine Township Court sentenced local shopkeeper Daw Aye Aye Soe to seven years in prison with labour for voluntarily causing grievous harm to a child.

Daw Aye Aye Soe, who owns a small restaurant at the Sel-Myo-Nel (Ten Township) male ward at the University of Mawlamyine, was convicted after pouring boiling water over her 14-year-old kitchen helper who she accused of stealing two oranges on December 16th 2016. According to the victim, she was also beaten over the head with a piece of firewood.

The judge presiding over the case sentenced Daw Aye Aye Soe to seven years in prison under Penal Code #326 for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons and means, as well as an additional one-year sentence in accordance with Penal Code #323, punishment for voluntarily causing hurt. The judge allowed Daw Aye Aye Soe to serve out her sentences concurrently, reducing her total time to be served from eight years to seven, according to Daw Thi Thi Nwe, a member of Mitta Zone Zee, an organization who supports vulnerable women and children.

Daw Thi Thi Nwe said, despite the length of the jail term, she just wanted the abuser to change her behaviour and be able to empathize with the young girl who worked so laboriously under her orders.

It’s not a jail sentence with hard labour. It’s just a jail sentence and labour. If she is jailed with hard labour, she has to hammer stones or do other hard work. But now, she has been punished with a jail sentence and labour, so she only has to work at the factory in the prison. Even though she has been jailed, she won’t be able to empathize with how difficult it is to deal with hard labour,” continued Daw Thi Thi Nwe.

The young girl suffered severe burns to her back and serious head injuries as a result of the attack. According to Mitta Zone Zee, she was admitted to the Neuro-Medical Department of the Yangon General Hospital where she was treated for her injuries.

Her memory is not good. She forgets easily. She looks like she is suffering from mental illness,” said Daw Thi Thi Nwe.

The girl is now under the care of the Mitta Zone Zee organization who have been providing her with food, health, and safety. They are accepting donations from the public on her behalf and plan to open a bank account to help support her in the future, in addition to teaching her livelihood skills such as sewing. Mitta Zone Zee has decided to work with the Department of Social Welfare, the Ward Administrator, and the media, in returning custody of the young girl to her family.

Child labour is pervasive throughout Burma, where children are often employed as domestic workers in private homes or as helpers in restaurants. Burma lacks a national child protection policy and has limited resources and capacity to prevent and respond to child protection issues. This and an overall lack of awareness on child labour and protection issues leaves children at a high risk of abuse during employment.





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