Nov 272007
 

In a statement commemorating the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently stated that,

“”Violence against women is always a violation of human rights; it is always a crime; and it is always unacceptable,” Ban said in a statement issued in New York. “Let us take this issue with the deadly seriousness that it deserves – not only on this International Day, but every day.”

He said the UN family was stepping up its activities at all levels – from new initiatives by regional commissions to better coordination and programming at country level. He added that efforts were under way to raise public awareness, build political will and provide effective responses.”

But apparently those efforts do not include recognition of the sexual violence that is being perpetrated against girls in Burma. Last week, Ban Ki-moon issued a statement deploring the recruitment of Burmese “children” to fight in armed conflicts, in direct violation of international agreements protecting children’s rights. Yet as Human Rights Watch has documented, virtually all of the “children” being recruited are boys. What the Secretary-General fails to mention is that while boys are being forced to fight, girls are being forced into prostitution to serve the military junta.

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The Nation has an excellent piece about the human rights abuses against women activists,

“Speaking from places in hiding, five women activists in Burma urged UN human rights bodies to help them and female political prisoners to survive the brutal hand of the military regime.

“We women who are on the run and in hiding to avoid the regime’s persecution need your help and assistance very urgently,” they wrote in a letter addressed to the UN special rapporteur on violence against women.”

The article also reports that according to the Asia-Pacific People’s Partnership for Burma, “106 women remain in detention, including six nuns, and a few dozen women activists are on the run.”

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A recent Wall Street Journal article gives a look at the vulnerability of girls and women, who in their efforts to escape sexual slavery in Burma, often end up being trafficked into Thailand where they once again end up in sexual slavery.

“Among these most vulnerable are girls and women from Burma’s ethnic minorities, who reside in the horseshoe of mountainous regions surrounding Burma’s flat heartland bordering China, India, Bangladesh and Thailand. Rape is widespread in Burma. Shan, Karen, Chin, Mon and other ethnic minority women and girls live in daily fear of sexual violence by their military oppressors, including as sex slaves in military camps in their regions. Their communities are powerless to protect them and so they flee.

After successfully escaping slavery in Burma, however, another cruel fate awaits too many Burmese. Instead of laying claim to the freedom and economic security they hoped for, they are preyed upon by traffickers and exploitative employers. They are pushed into the sex trade or into highly predatory economic sectors in neighboring countries. Some Kachin, Shan and Burman girls and women enter the sex trade in China and other neighboring countries. International Labor Organization research conducted in 2006 suggests that many of the estimated two million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand work under exploitative conditions.”

Lastly, there is this troubling report of the arrest of three women activists opposed to the damming of the Irrawaddy River.

“Three women activists opposed to the Irrawaddy River dam project in Myitsone in Kachin State, Northern Burma were arrested yesterday by the Burmese police, said sources close to the activists.

Ms. Pan Tsun and two other colleagues have been detained at No. (1) Police Station in Myitkyina Township, capital of Kachin State, a source in Myitkyina close to the detainees told KNG this evening.

Ms. Pan Tsun was arrested from her house in Shatapru Quarter in Myitkyina after her two colleagues were detained for being in possession of civilians’ signature campaign documents against the Myitsone dam in Nawngnang Village, ten miles north of Myitkyina, sources said.

Today, the three detainees were reportedly interrogated by special branch-police (SB) in custody, the sources added.”

“The proposed Myitsone dam …will inundate 47 villages near the area and over 10,000 villagers will be displaced, warned the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG)’s report—”Damming the Irrawaddy” which was published last month.””

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 November 27, 2007  Posted by on November 27, 2007

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