Karen rights group re­leases re­port on abuse against women

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - NYEIN EI EI HTWE nyeineiei­htwe@mm­times.com

A NEW hu­man rights re­port has high­lighted the plight of women and girls in one of the coun­try’s con­flict zones. The Karen Hu­man Rights Group’s re­port: “Hid­den Strengths, Hid­den Strug­gles: Women’s Tes­ti­monies from South­east Myan­mar” comes 10 years after “Dig­nity in the Shadow of Op­pres­sion”, the group’s ac­count of the is­sues con­fronting Karen women.

The de­tailed por­trayal of women’s voices in the lat­est re­port is based on an anal­y­sis of 1048 doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing 98 in­ter­views with women, col­lected by KHRG be­tween Jan­uary 2012 and March 2016.

‘Hid­den Strengths, Hid­den Strug­gles’ cov­ers the pe­riod be­gin­ning with the cease­fire agree­ment be­tween the Karen Na­tional Union (KNU) and the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment up to the sign­ing of the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment in Oc­to­ber 2015, fol­lowed by the Novem­ber elec­tion, to an­a­lyse the changes that oc­curred dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

It de­scribes women’s per­spec­tives, in­clud­ing health and ed­u­ca­tion, liveli­hoods and de­vel­op­ment, as well as the ques­tions of abuse, agency and ac­cess to jus­tice, en­tail­ing forced labour, gen­der-based vi­o­lence, land con­fis­ca­tions and land­mines, ar­bi­trary tax­a­tion, and ex­tor­tion.

KHRG presents its re­port as a tool in de­vel­op­ing aware­ness of lo­cal women’s con­cerns and agency in the peace process, and il­lus­trates for the gen­eral pub­lic women’s per­cep­tions of the sit­u­a­tion on the ground in ru­ral south­east Myan­mar.

Naw Eh Thaw, ad­vo­cacy co­or­di­na­tor of KHRG, said the in­ter­views were taken from vil­lage res­i­dents that were then an­a­lysed by peer groups.

“One of our dif­fi­cul­ties while we were gath­er­ing data for the re­port was the safety of lo­cal res­i­dents and our staff in the field,” she said, adding that mil­i­tary forces posed a se­cu­rity threat de­spite the ex­is­tence of a cease­fire.

Naw Eh Thaw said the re­port ex­posed ac­cu­rately in de­tail the threats posed to women by the sit­u­a­tion in the zone.

“Gen­der-based abuse con­tin­ues. There is a sys­tem by which women who are raped are of­fered some money [in­stead of jus­tice]. There are still weak­nesses in ed­u­ca­tion, jus­tice and other forms of sup­port,” she said.

The long dis­tances be­tween vil­lages and the re­mote location of health cen­tres and pri­mary schools dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected girls and women. No med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties ex­isted even for preg­nancy and child­birth. Where fa­cil­i­ties did ex­ist, re­spon­dents questioned the level of train­ing and skills of the gov­ern­ment staff, cit­ing in­stances of un­trained health­care work­ers pre­scrib­ing in­cor­rect dosages of med­i­ca­tion, the re­port said.

Photo: Supplied

A co­or­di­na­tor for the Karen Hu­man Rights Group re­ported some dif­fi­culty keep­ing safe while com­pil­ing the re­port.

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