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Women’s rights groups and activists marked the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women across Burma today.
The Women’s League of Burma (WLB), a coalition of women’s rights groups, urged the incoming National League for Democracy (NLD) government to bring an end to the use of violence against women as a weapon of war. The group also expressed concerns about the safety of women in Kachin and Shan States where thousands are being displaced due to ongoing fighting between government forces and rebel groups.
Moon Li, a WLB representative, told DVB: “We have high hopes pinned on the incoming new government. As the leader of the party [NLD] is a woman we believe she can understand the feelings of women in conflict areas and will do something to end violence against women – especially sexual violence that is rampant in ethnic areas,” she said.
An event supporting the day was held in the Zabuyit Hall in the Tenassarim capital of Tavoy.
Mae Su Su Swe, a WLB representative from Tavoy office, told DVB: “Wearing the white ribbon is a vow that the wearer will not commit or endorse violence, or turn a blind eye when seeing someone committing violence against women.”
“For the next 16 days, we will be raising awareness on sexual and other forms of violence against women through hosting talk shows and erecting billboards,” she added.
Activists in Rangoon’s Mingalardon Township marked the day by handing out postcards and stickers calling for peace in Burma and the release of political prisoners, as well as holding discussion forums on violence against women.
“We distributed postcards prioritising crowded areas and schools calling for peace in Burma with pictures of ethnic nationalities holding hands, and stickers calling for release of political prisoners,” said Cho Cho, one of the event organisers.
She added that the wives of Burmese Army servicemen in the township also joined the discussion forums.
In Rangoon’s Thanlyin Township, activists held discussions on the issue of violence against women, and distributed posters and white ribbons.
“When we say ‘peace for Burmese people’, it also includes women as make up the majority of the country’s population. We are distributing white ribbons and holding a prayer to end the plight of women across Burma including ethnic women who were forced to abandon their homes in conflict regions and are subjected to sexual violence, and also those denied health care, education, and legal protection,” said Win Win Mu, a local activist.
Read more about women’s rights in Burma here.