More than one year after the election of a pro-democracy government, the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) has found that women and girls continue to experience alarming rates of sexual violence in Burma at the hands of both State actors and private citizens.1 According to police records, sexual abuse of young children are the most common rape cases.2 Perpetrators may be neighbours, teachers, monks, military personnel, police officers, village administrators and family members; and survivors include girls as young as three years old. WLB considers rape committed against minors to be especially heinous, yet these young survivors continue to face challenges accessing justice and recovering from the trauma of these experiences.
Girls impacted by sexual violence often suffer from physical injury, trauma-related mental health problems, interruptions to their education, negative social stigma, and even ostracism from their communities. The crimes against them may be ignored, covered up, or not taken seriously, and are often minimized in the name of maintaining ‘peace’ in the village. In the minority of cases that do make it through the formal legal system, girls are re-traumatized by compulsory participation in public trials, lack of gender sensitivity training among Judges or special accommodations for child survivors, and an unreliable and ineffective legal system which allows perpetrators with power, money or connections to evade justice.
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