MWAF member says women lack protection

Nov 26, 2008 (DVB), A senior member of the Kaytumadi township branch of the Myanmar Women's Affairs Federation who recently fled Burma has said the organisation is unable to protect women in the country.

Thadar Soe was the head of women's protection and the finance sub-department of the MWAF in Kaytumadi township, Bago division before she left the country for Thailand.

She told DVB she was frustrated by the way the organisation failed to give effective help to women.

"In my personal opinion, I don’t really think the MWAF was doing effective work to protect women from violence , in fact, the organisation barely took responsibility for most cases," she said.

"The organisation was collecting a lot of taxes and there was no right of free speech," she went on.

"One of the reasons I fled to the Thai-Burma border is because we were giving children a kind of education which is not very good for them and I couldn’t bear being suppressed anymore."

Thadar Soe gave an example of one case that the organisation was unable to pursue because of obstruction by the military.

"There was one incident in our town where a 30-year-old woman was gang-raped by four soldiers who were guarding the 903rd Support and Transportation Battalion," Thadar Soe explained.

"She came to us in tears and told us what happened," she said.

"We wanted to seek justice for her but the army wouldn't let us."

The MWAF is nominally a non-governmental organisation, but in reality it has little independence from the regime and its branches are closely linked to local officials.

Reporting by Htet Yazar

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