Honest Information (HI)
Due to the military coup on February 1st, 2021, where the date of the Third Parliament is set to be held, a bill that woman’s groups had been trying for eight years since 2013 is disappeared.
If the coup had not taken place, ‘Prevention and Protection of Violence Against Women Bill (PoVAW)’ is expected to be discussed and review to enact legislation in the next parliament. If passed into law, it will provide a legal framework for addressing women’s disproportionate experiences of violence. But now, the hopes and attempted for Legal protections for women are failing.
When there was a civilian government in 2010, revolution for Gender Equality which is the women’s groups has been working on over years, a bill on protection of women so-called PoVAW which raised and some hope for women were moving forward. However, everything was ruined during the six months of the military coup.
A women’s rights activist May Sabel Phyu said gender equality and women’s rights which have been struggling by the women’s organization cannot be processed anymore if the military regime still exists in Myanmar.
“There is no way of gender equality and human rights under the dictatorship. Democratic norms and gender equality can never stand with the Dictatorship.” said, May Sabel Phyu.
Recently, Human rights and women’s rights activists have been fleeing for their safety by leaving their office behind as they are targeted to the crackdown by Junta. Some of them have threatened to be arrested in terms of leading the strike overthrow the military.
Like in the past years, most Human Rights defenders had to flee somewhere out of Myanmar or a liberated area to keep working for advancing Human Rights.
After the political transition from military to civilian rule in 2010, the 13 ethnic women’s groups that were based in Thailand for many years and have been working on women’s issues, politics, and federalism were returned to inside Burma. They returned home with the hope that they would be able to effectively address women’s issues and work for greater women’s equality.
However, after the military coup in February, members of the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) had to leave their headquarter office in Burma and left for the liberated area.
“We have to work according to the political changes. We are trying to find ways to include all aspects of women’s and political issues. It’s back to the previous time again now” said Naw Hser Hser, the General Secretary of WLB.
After the coup, women’s rights activists and their activities are restricted. At the same time, the violation against women is increasing.
Even before the military coup took place, The COVID-19 outbreak was rampant and restrictions were imposed on the first wave, Domestic violence against women has escalated since then.
Under the covid-19 pandemic, the cases of Domestic Violence, sexual violence were facing difficulty to find justice. Women’s rights groups say local women are now more suffered between the situation of the covid-19 and the coup.
“Women have been suffering from trauma since early spread out of the covid-19 in Burma. After the military coup, we can no longer deal with trauma and sexual violence cases. There is no way of justice can be found at the moment” said Naw Hser Hser.
Everything in the country fell apart after the coup and the people lost faith in the mechanism of the military council.
“Under a bad situation of the COVID-19, domestic violence is increasing and judicial proceedings are currently stuck and any kind of legal aid support could not be provided to them,” Ma Nyein Nyein Tun, an women’s rights activist from Sagaing Region explained.
“We have to stop all of our legal aids services in Kale, Sagaing Division because we are fleeing. I am getting sad that we can no longer help women promptly,” said Nyein Nyein Tun.
Similar to other organizations, after the coup, cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment that Burmese Women’s Union (BWU) had been providing for the legal aid services but have to stop.
“Under this military council, women will never find the truth, despite there are the grievances, they will not be able to go to the court and do not trust to the judiciary as well,” said Zue Padonma.
Recently, there are a lot of cases of domestic violence and sexual violence which are no longer to seek justice and the truth. Anyhow the information about the incidents had been documented. And, the counseling services through phone are providing, said Women’s Rights group.
“At the same time, we are fleeing for ourselves, we could not bring women to court for proceeding but we are helping with telephone counseling, and the data has been collected,” said Zue Padonma.
In addition, after the military coup, women from Karen, Kachin, Kayin, Kareni( Kayah ), and Shan states IDP Camps are facing food and drug shortages under the ongoing civil war.
Between situation of the covid-19 outbreak on one hand and the military coup on the other hand, it is not easy to help children and women from IDP Camps, but we are taking risks and providing assistance in every possible way said a local woman from SWAN, who is currently working for women’s rights in Shan State.
The worst-case in Shan State for local people compared to the other region is the ongoing fights between the two armed groups, which are the RCSS / SSA and the SSPP / SSA.
“It is very difficult to survive under three crises. The clash between the two Shan troops, the covid-19 pandemic, and the military coup. We have concerns about security due to the fighting in the local area, worry for the arbitrary arrest by the military council and it means, every situation scared to us. However, we are more focusing to work on women’s health issues more” said a SWAN official.
WLB is helping with newborn babies, elderly who are from ethnic areas, and refugees through connecting with its member organizations.
“We connect to the ethnic sisters and give priority to assistant to the pregnant women and newborns. We will find a way to support them as much as possible. If our groups do not help, then, who will? We are trying to support them as much as we can” said, Naw Hser Hser.
As a member of WLB, the member ethnic women’s organization was formed in the past 20 years in the revolutionary area, and they all have actively participated in the current Sprint revolution. No matter many challenges are threatened but they keep continue to involve in the rights of women and the political movement as a whole.
“We must continue to push for a political shift. If we do not eradicate the military dictatorship, our people will continue to lose” said Naw Hser Hser.
Ethnic women’s groups point out, the coup is likely to repeat as long as the military dictator is not eradicated. Thus, everybody must end the dictatorship together.
Naw Hser Hser also keeps saying “We cannot give up to the military coup. If we lose, we have
to keep going under this continuously. A military coup happened, a bit recovers, and then taking back the power again. Our generation will continue to face the situation again and again. We have to fight together.”
Under the military dictatorship, from the 1st January to 1st July, 850 people were killed and among them, at least 57 women were included, according to the report released by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
Among the 6,300 people who are arrested, 1,049 are women, according to the AAPP.
In the country, people keep showing their against the dictatorship with the strike and protests, on the other hand, the brutal crackdown is also seriously happening. Although the situation forced the women’s organizations to relocate to the liberated areas but they are keeping working for gender equality and federal while they are fleeing.
Under the current military coup, the draft bill on women’s rights that is going to be enacted are lost, activities and movements are restricted; offices have been shut down, but women’s rights activists continue their fight for women’s rights taking the ways from every platform channel.