Family of child rape victim upset after forged signature causes them to miss court date

February 7, 2018

WCRP: The family of a 13-year-old victim of rape from Pa Nga village, Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, is upset after learning that they had missed the perpetrator’s first court date after the mother’s signature was forged on the court attendance list.

Daw Ngo explained, “we didn’t know that the Mawlamyine court called us for the first court date as police from Thanbyuzayat did not tell us about it. When they called us for the second court date I found my forged signature on the attendance list of the first court date. I asked a police officer about the fake signature and told him that I am concerned about signing the paper for the second court date. The police officer said nothing would happen and to just sign for the second court date. So I signed the paper for the second court date attendance list.”

According to Daw Ngo, although her signature was included on the attendance list for the first court date, it was not similar to her handwriting. When she asked a police officer about the forged signature he told her that someone from Pa Nga village had signed. But when Daw Ngo asked Pa Nga villagers, they told her that someone from the police had signed it.

They shouldn’t be able to do this without telling the victim’s family. They should know about trial proceedings. A trial is important because [their presence] is helpful when the court makes a decision on punishment for the perpetrator. Actually, [this incident] can be considered a form of corruption,” said Mi Cherry Soe, Project Director at Jeepyah Civil Society Development Organization (JCSDO). She added, “due to these kinds of problem, citizens don’t trust in the rule of law and have little faith in the government’s staff as well.”

According to the victim’s mother,

we went to the Thanbyuzayat Police Station to sign the attendance list for the second court date and asked the police officer about the fake signature. The police officer told me that if the court asks about our absence at the first trial, just to tell them that my daughter was sick and we could not attend. I replied that my daughter was fine, but that we did not know about the date of the trial and couldn’t join. Then he said we know that, but he requested that if the court asks, to just tell them what he said. But the court asked nothing about it and we just stayed quiet.”

On November 15th 2017, Daw Ngo’s 13-year-old daughter was raped twice by a 58-year-old man. Her daughter had gone to the market to buy snacks and when she passed the perpetrator’s house he invited her in to eat a snack in his house where the perpetrator then attacked the girl.

In Burma, individuals face many challenges when accessing justice for sexual violence. Legal fees and transportation costs associated with taking formal legal action in a court of law can be daunting. Furthermore, length of trials can last years, necessitating even greater costs and days off work for families to attend court proceedings. This often leads survivors and their families to settle for compensation arranged through village administration, rather than seek justice through formal legal channels.

For more information on sexual violence against children and challenges to accessing justice in Mon State and Mon areas of southern Burma, see HURFOM’s 2017 report: Cracks in the Silence.

 

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