By Shannon Sommerauer
The first session of testimony, Violence Against Women, has just come to a close. Already, those of us listening to the testimonies are in awe of the courage of those testifying. What has become clear over the course of the first four testimonies are the ways in which multiple forces compound to victimize and re-victimize the women of Burma.
In the first testimony, four young women were not only brutally raped, but then blamed for what happened to them by their school, doctors, the judiciary, their community and even those who committed crimes against them. Testifiers speaking about the experience of human trafficking explained how poverty and the blind eye of the Burmese government contributed to their suffering.
In all these ways, Lway Aye Nang articulated, the women of Burma are further subjected to the “tortures of silence” and the “tortures of shame”. The women testifying here, however, are showing us that they do not accept this silence. Instead, they are rejecting their re-victimization by speaking out, in the hope that doing so will lead to real change for their country.
It has been an incredibly moving day thus far, and the testimonies are far from over. We will continue our live webcast of the Tribunal, which you can view at http://tinyurl.com/yzywzgn#burma. You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NobelWomen.