Recent international attention on rape by the army has focused on abuses against Shan women. But following a research mission by Refugees International (RI) to the Thai-Burmese border, RI was able to confirm that rape is widespread, affecting women from numerous ethnic groups.
In its report issued April 4th., RI documented 43 rapes among women from the Karen, Karenni, Mon, Tavoyan and Shan ethnicities. Seventy-five percent of women interviewed in RI focus groups reported knowing someone who had been raped.
In nearly one third of the cases, rapes were committed by higher-ranking officers, and in only two cases were any punishments given, these extremely weak. These statistics indicate that there is a permissive attitude towards rape by those overseeing lower ranking soldiers.
However, the Burmese military government dismissed the report as lies. Ms. Martins said , “It’s a shame the Burmese government has failed again to protect the women of Burma. The government should be concerned about these serious accusations and conduct investigations to ensure such abuses must not be tolerated and take necessary actions. They have failed to protect the women and to punish the perpetrators .”