Sexual violence against children in Mon State up 42% in 2017

May 1, 2018

WCRP: Reported cases of sexual violence against children in Mon State rose by 42% in 2017, according to statistics from the Mawlamyine Police Station. This follows a trend seen around many parts of Burma, leading to widespread media coverage and public outrage. The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) itself saw an 83% increase in the number of reported cases received in the last 12 months, as well as an 11-fold increase over the last five years.

“Cases of child rape are currently increasing…We have a network in local communities and they inform and send us cases on child sexual abuse. These days we receive child rape cases very often. From December [2017] to April 2018, we received about 20 rape cases and half of those involved children,” said Daw Khin Than Htwe, from the Mon Women and Children Upgrade Committee (MWCUC).

Sexual violence against children in Burma has become an increasingly visible and controversial issue over the last several years. Just over a year ago, the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) released Cracks in the Silence, which explored the significant increase in the number of reported cases of sexual violence against children in Mon State, and the challenges to accessing justice in Burma’s complex pluralistic legal system.

The report followed a surge in the number of reported cases of sexual violence against children in Burma, with official police statistics noting cases of such violence rising from 43% to 61% of all reported rapes in Burma. This upward trend only continued throughout 2017, according to statistics released in February by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

However, it is likely that the number of actual cases is much higher than reported, as traditional beliefs and the surrounding stigma of sexual violence lead many to remain silent. This is also compounded by the lack of faith in formal legal systems among ethnic minorities, leading to a reliance on customary law at the village level.

The biggest challenge is village administrators using customary law to solve rape cases in villages. For example, we have heard of rape cases in villages where the village administrator asks the victim to agree to marry the perpetrator, and if both of them agree, they sign a marriage certificate and the case is finished. Sometimes, they negotiate with both sides and finish the case through compensation,” continued Daw Khin Than Htwe.

 

Comments

Got something to say?