UPDATE: On July 23, the women were found guilty of unlawful assembly and sentenced to serve one month of jail time or to pay a fine equivalent to $30.00 US dollars. The women opted to pay the fine to avoid jail time. At this time, still no official legal action has been taken against the Burmese soldier accused of attempted rape.
On June 25, Burmese forces arrested 8 women activists for staging peaceful protests against sexual violence. The two demonstrations were held on June 23 and 24 in the southern state of Chin. They were attended by 400 and 200 people respectively.
The detained activists, who are members of the Razua and Matupi Women’s Groups, made numerous attempts beforehand to consult with authorities to hold a peaceful protest. Each time they were rejected and threatened. One official allegedly stated that if police were to shoot protesters the authorities would not take responsibility.
The demonstrations were held in response to the attempted rape of a woman by a Burmese soldier on June 10th. Though the perpetrator was arrested, activists feared he would never be brought to justice, as is commonplace in Burma. These fears were realized when the Burma Army Tactical Commander gave the equivalent $100.00 U.S. dollars and 15 packs of noodles to the survivor’s husband as “compensation” for the crime.
The Razua Women’s Group of Burma has issued a statement condemning the targeting of grassroots activists and calling for an end to sexual violence against ethnic women in Burma.