Dire position of women in Myanmar: ‘A silent emergency’

Violence towards women is widespread and normalized within Myanmar, as the number of rape victims is rising each year alongside greater police inaction and social stigma. The situation has been described as a ‘silent emergency’ by the UN, but no further action has been taken. In January 2020, the government published an updated draft of the National Prevention and Protection of Violence Against Women law, yet, women’s organizations note that it only includes slight improvements from the previous one, therefore, they doubt that it will be effectively implemented and demand more amendments to ensure women’s protection.

Women’s organizations draw attention to and condemn the armed conflict taking place in the Mutraw district of the Karen state, caused by plans of expansion of the Burma road. Despite the ceasefire agreement, the indiscriminate violence going on has forced the displacement of almost 300 families living in the area, placing in danger thousands of women and children.

The Rohingya population, especially the women, are threatened by the government’s dismissal of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the prevention of the genocide of Rohingya Muslims on the grounds of presenting a distorted image of the situation. Further protections can shield women from the potential of being raped, trafficked for sex, or even killed on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

Gender Concerns International calls for greater action that is urgently needed to address these threats, protect women during conflicts and help raise women’s socioeconomic position. Important efforts are being made by civil society organizations to improve women’s living conditions and societal role.