Ac­tivists urge stricter penal­ties for child rape

The Myanmar Times - - News - THAN NAING SOE thannaing­soe@mm­

AC­TIVISTS are push­ing for heav­ier penal­ties for those who sex­u­ally abuse or rape chil­dren, with a sign­board cam­paign over the week­end held at Man­dalay’s Manaw Ya­man pub­lic square on 62nd Street.

The pub­lic dis­play was part of a 16-day cam­paign, which be­gan on Novem­ber 25, run by civil so­ci­ety groups with the mis­sion of end­ing vi­o­lence against women.

“We have seen a spate of rapes of chil­dren re­cently, so this cam­paign aims to ed­u­cate the pub­lic and also to urge par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tives to deal with this is­sue through very care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion and by sub­mit­ting pro­pos­als to par­lia­ment as quickly as pos­si­ble,” said one of the or­gan­is­ers, Ko Nay Win Aung.

Leg­isla­tive ac­tion should in­clude heavy penal­ties for sex of­fend­ers per­pe­trat­ing abuses against mi­nors, he said, with the goal of re­duc­ing the num­ber of cases.

“We do not want to de­mand only the death penalty, but either a 40-year sen­tence or a life sen­tence,” he said. “Death is not the wrong penalty for a real of­fender but there could be a wrong­ful con­vic­tion of some­one who did not ac­tu­ally com­mit a crime.”

A Face­book in­vite sim­i­larly call­ing for an end to sex­ual vi­o­lence at an event in Yan­gon’s Kan­daw­gyi Park gar­nered the in­ter­est of thou­sands of users and was due to be held yes­ter­day.

Ko Nay Win Aung blamed the preva­lence of sex­u­ally ex­plicit pho­tos and videos, eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble in the mod­ern era on cheap mo­bile hand­sets and other me­dia de­vices, for the rise in in­ci­dents of child rape.

“The Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs to re­strict sex­u­ally ex­plicit so­cial me­dia pages, web­sites and videos,” he said. “Rel­e­vant tele­coms op­er­a­tors are also re­spon­si­ble for ban­ning ac­cess to these pages and web­sites un­der the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Law.”

The week­end cam­paign was or­gan­ised by Man­dalay phil­an­thropic groups, on­line so­cial groups, and in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy ex­perts.

“We will con­tinue to or­gan­ise sim­i­lar events un­til we see heavy penal­ties be­ing im­posed,” Ko Nay Win Aung said. “We will cam­paign on so­cial me­dia and pub­lish news on­line. Through this out­reach, we will let rel­e­vant of­fi­cials know about this is­sue.”

“We have sug­gested that the Pyithu Hlut­taw and the Amyotha Hlut­taw con­sider this is­sue,” Man­dalay Re­gion Hlut­taw law­maker U Myint Aung Moe (NLD; Chan Mya Tharsi 2) said. “If they do not, we will work on it in the re­gional hlut­taw as much as the law will al­low.”

Myan­mar Le­gal Sup­port Group chair U Hla Ko said he wants to see leg­isla­tive amend­ments to en­sure heavy penal­ties be­cause cur­rently the ma­jor­ity of rape con­vic­tions re­sult in sen­tences of less than 10 years in pri­son.

– Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

Photo: Than Naing Soe

A young girl in Man­dalay holds up a sign dur­ing a pub­lic cam­paign to end sex­ual vi­o­lence against women.

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