Constitution perpetuates violence against women: WLB

Nov 27, 2008 (DVB), The Women's League of Burma has said the military regime's new constitution condemns women to a continuing cycle of violence, in a statement released to mark White Ribbon day.

The international day for the elimination of violence against women, or White Ribbon day, is marked around the world on 25 November.

WLB criticised the "systematic state violence" against Burmese women, including the imprisonment of female activists and the rape of women, particularly those from ethnic minorities, by the military.

The group claims that the junta's failure to include provisions within the new constitution to improve the representation of women at decision-making levels and promote gender equality will perpetuate a cycle of violence against women.

The organisation also calls on the United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women to investigate reports of state-sanctions sexual violence and pledged to work to refer regime leaders to the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Nang Yain, general secretary of WLB, said the group had released the statement to draw attention to the continued abuse of Burmese women.

"At the same time as we are making efforts to stop violence against women, our ruling government is committing abuses against women in the country as well as encouraging such abuses to carry on," she said.

Nang Yain said the WLB had organised White Ribbon Day women’s seminars in Chiang Mai, Mae Hon Song, Mae Sot and Sangkhlaburi, as well as in India and China border areas on Wednesday.

In Thailand, WLB's White Ribbon day celebration was held at Dr Cynthia Maung’s Mae Tao clinic in Mae Sot, according to WLB member Lway Aye Nan.

In previous years, the Thailand branch of WLB has held its White Ribbon day celebration in Chiang Mai, but this year the group moved the event to Mae Sot due to the current political unrest.

WLB has held an event to mark White Ribbon day in Thailand every year since 2003.

In New Delhi, India, Burmese women from different ethnic backgrounds held a White Ribbon day seminar at the Burmese Hall jointly organised by the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma and WLB in India.

Lon Nan, a Kachin woman, said the seminar attendees had discussed how culture and traditions are used as a justification for the abuse of women in Burma.

"In various tribes in Kachin state, women have been abused and discriminated against on the pretext of culture and traditions," she said.

Mary Moik Thae, a Chin woman, said that women were forced into restrictive roles.

"We have been discriminated against since the day we were born , we are given responsibility for all the housework, child rearing and other hard tasks," she said.

"We were never given any support from our families to finish our education because we were born women."

Reporting by Phone Min Naing and Khin Maung Soe Min

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