Calls for ac­tion af­ter bru­tal acid at­tack

The Myanmar Times - - News - NICK BAKER n.baker@mm­times.com

WOMEN’S rights groups are de­mand­ing ac­tion at the high­est lev­els af­ter a re­cent acid at­tack in Mon State. A 23-year old woman, who has not been named, was at­tacked by her ex-boyfriend with a cor­ro­sive sub­stance on May 22. “Her eyes, ears and face were de­formed along with the right side of her body,” Daw Nan Htwe, pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor at Akhaya Women Myan­mar, told The Myan­mar Times. “And her neck, shoul­der, ch­est and hands were [also] se­verely burned.”

In re­sponse, Akhaya Women Myan­mar, the Karen Women’s Em­pow­er­ment Group and the Myan­mar Pos­i­tive Women Net­work or­gan­ised an aware­ness event about the case in Yan­gon on Au­gust 19.

The bru­tal re­al­ity of the at­tack was laid bare in the form of public dis­cus­sion and a drama­ti­sa­tion. “This sur­vivor now faces many on­go­ing chal­lenges,” Daw Nan Htwe said. “She needs ad­vanced med­i­cal treat­ment, is un­able to work, faces the psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma of her changed ap­pear­ance, is re­luc­tant to even ap­pear in public and has had no fi­nan­cial sup­port.”

The women’s rights groups called on the Union gov­ern­ment to im­me­di­ately pass leg­is­la­tion that helps pre­vent vi­o­lence against women and urged for po­lice to be bet­ter trained in ad­dress­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. “We must change the preva­lent view that do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is merely an in­ter­nal fam­ily mat­ter in Myan­mar,” said Daw Htar Htar, the di­rec­tor of Akhaya Women Myan­mar. “Women need sup­port and pro­tec­tion from the wider com­mu­nity against any vi­o­lence they are sub­jected to.”

The groups also stressed the im­por­tance of a cul­tural shift in Myan­mar around do­mes­tic vi­o­lence – such as teach­ing young boys that even the small­est act of vi­o­lence against a girl is un­ac­cept­able.

The per­pe­tra­tor in this case has been charged but not yet tried. Do­na­tions to the sur­vivor can be made through Akhaya Women Myan­mar at akhayapc@gmail.com or 09786371055.

Photo: Aung Khant

Ac­tors drama­tise the Mon State acid at­tack.

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