High profile women sign pledge to end impunity for rape and sexual violence in Myanmar


British actress/cast member Dame Judi Dench arrives for the premiere of 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' in London, Britain, 17 February 2015. Photo: Andy Rain/EPA

On International Women’s Day, 110 high profile women, including Dame Judi Dench, Annie Lennox, Jo Brand, Gillian Anderson, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters and Zoë Wanamaker, are standing with the women of Myanmar to end rape and sexual violence according to a statement from the Burma Campaign UK.

According to the statement, “The Burma army has used rape and sexual violence against women for decades as part of their warfare against ethnic minority groups in the country. This has been done with impunity and denial. Cases of women and girls being raped by soldiers from the government's forces include the rape of a 12 year old girl in front of her mother, and of a disabled woman. Many of the victims were gang-raped, and many killed afterwards. This is in breach of international law, and constitutes a war crime. Reports of rape have increased in recent years. UN reports have described rape and sexual violence as ‘widespread and systematic.’”

It also notes, “Although winning a landslide victory in national elections in November 2015, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, will not have control over the Burma army when it takes office in April 2016. Therefore, there is a possibility that army rape will continue even with the new NLD-led government in place.

The new NLD-led government could initiate a domestic investigation into rape and sexual violence by the Burma army, and make sure support for victims is available. It could also include women in peace negotiations and politics overall, as well as repealing laws, such as Burma’s rape law, which discriminate against women.”

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