In October 2016, amid renewed violence in Rakhine state, it was reported that “dozens” of women had been raped by Burma/Myanmar army soldiers. The story shocked international media and the United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict called on the Government to conduct an investigation into the alleged incidents.
However, the Burma/Myanmar army has long used rape as a weapon of war, especially against Burma’s/Myanmar’s ethnic nationalities. Despite the hundreds of rapes that have been recorded by Burma’s/Myanmar’s NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs), no member of Burma’s/Myanmar’s government forces has ever been punished for committing rape or sexual violence. This is because under Burma’s/Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution the army gifted itself immunity from the country’s laws, meaning allegations of rape are only investigated internally by the army, if at all.
This has resulted in soldiers being able to rape with impunity. A 2002 report by the Shan Women’s Action Network called it a ‘license to rape’. This immunity is an infringement of international law as the UN explicitly “does not recognize any amnesty for […] crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
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