Rape as a Weapon of War and the Women Who Are Resisting

The Burma Army uses rape as a weapon of war. Sexual violence has become a hallmark of the prolonged civil conflict and an indisputable tactic of the Burma Army against ethnic women. After several failed domestic and international agreements, the Burma Army continues to rape with impunity, but women across the ethnic states are tired of living in fear.

Several ethnic women from the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) agreed to be interviewed for this piece, giving personal accounts of their experiences as women in this war, as well as providing one example of how women across Burma’s ethnic states are taking action against endemic rape in the region. FBR is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement working to bring help, hope, and love to people in the conflict zones of Burma. Working in conjunction with local, ethnic pro-democracy groups, FBR trains, supplies, and later coordinates with what become highly mobile multi-purpose relief teams.

This paper examines the use of rape as a weapon of war in Burma’s subnational conflict. More specifically, examining how the climate of impunity, which has enabled the military to avoid prosecution, has galvanized women across Burma to take a more active role in combating gender-based violence. The female Rangers interviewed for this piece have decided to endure arduous Ranger training together to not only strengthen their bodies but to empower their spirits of resistance in hopes of putting an end to a war where, sometimes, the battlefield is their own bodies.

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