Ye City Police accused of lack of transparency over handling of rape case

December 4, 2017

WCRP: A survivor of sexual violence is upset with the Ye City Police over the lack of transparency in the handling of her case. At approximately 11 pm on September 13th 2017, 50-year-old Than Htike, a migrant fisherman from Yangon, entered the 25-year-old disabled woman’s house in Karot Karae village, Andin village tract, and raped her while her husband was out night fishing. The victim’s family reported the case to the Ye City Police Station two days later.

On September 15th the perpetrator was arrested after the victim, Ma K—, complied with police requests and underwent a medical exam at the Ye City Hospital. The perpetrator was charged under Myanmar Penal Code Section #376 (punishment for rape) and Penal Code #511 (punishment for attempting to commit an offence).

According to Daw Chone, Chair of the Andin chapter of the Mon Women’s Organization (MWO), even though the perpetrator has been arrested and charged over two months ago, the police have not yet informed them of the next steps.

We have not heard anything from the police yet. The victim is disabled and she can’t walk very well and it is difficult for her to travel. If she goes somewhere she needs to go by truck. She has no money to spend on that. She can’t even carry her baby. She also has financial problems, which prompted her neighbor to tell her not to follow or report her case. Moreover, the victim feels depressed as she has financial problems which make it difficult for her to continue her case,” said Daw Chone.

Poverty is a major obstacle to accessing justice for villagers in Burma. Often survivors of sexual violence and their families are hesitant to report cases through formal legal channels, as time and costs associated with travelling to more urban locations where courts are situated often preclude villagers from accessing state-level justice systems. This is exacerbated by the extended length of most legal proceedings, which may require dozens of trips over a period of years.

Ma K— was offered 500,000 kyat (US $366.56) as compensation by the perpetrator’s wife in exchange for dropping the case, however she rejected the money. “Currently, MWO is helping me with my case. I have received some support and money from them, but I have used it for my family’s living costs. I need to go to the police station by truck and I have difficulties for my travelling costs. I don’t need compensation. I will be satisfied if the perpetrator receives punishment for his crime.” 

On November 24th 2017, the local Andin village MWO chapter took the victim to meet and discuss about her case with Legal Clinic Myanmar (LCM) in Mawlamyine.

I would like to know whether the authorities will punish the perpetrator for his crime or not. I fear that he will be released without any punishment. I don’t want him to live in the village anymore,” said Ma K—.

Daw Chone stated, “We don’t want the perpetrator to be released. The victim will not be safe if the perpetrator is released after about a year of being detained. We fear that he will kill the victim and the person who reported him [to the police] after he is released. The victim is also worried about it.

This is not the first time the perpetrator has been accused of sexual violence, having twice been accused of the attempted rape of a 40-year-old woman whose husband was also night fishing at the time. However, the woman declined to report her case.

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




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