Activists urge stricter penalties for child rape
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
A young girl in Mandalay holds up a sign during a public campaign to end sexual violence against women.