Saturday December 16th 2017

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Rape of 10 year old girl causes outrage

HPRUSO—The rape of a 10-year-old girl in Hpruso, near Loikaw in Kayah State, has caused outrage and demonstrations in response to ongoing sexual violations in the district due to the close proximity of a military camp based nearby. Protestors have used this incident to call for severe punishment for the perpetrators of these violent crimes and to highlight the need for the military camp to take responsibility for their soldiers and try to prevent such crimes from occurring.

The Assault of a Child

On Jan. 24th 2013, the young girl was abducted after an evening class by the perpetrator, who pretended to know her sister and offered her a snack. After convincing the girl that her sister sent him to pick her up, he took her to a distant cemetery and held a knife to her, threatening to kill her as he raped her throughout the night.

That evening when the girl’s parents realized she had gone missing, they searched houses nearby and went to see the friend their daughter had been playing with earlier that day. Her friend told them she had gone off with a man she did not recognize and had not heard from her since.

Around noon the following day, the girl was discovered by three motorcyclists on a highway road leading to Loikaw. They witnessed the rapist trying to leave her body in an empty car and immediately contacted the police. Once taken into custody at the police station, the girl was able to identify and describe how he had abused her. The girl’s friend whom she had been with when she was abducted also came to the station and identified him as the perpetrator.

At the time when the young girl was discovered she appeared wounded on her back and face, as if beaten and cut with a knife, and was immediately sent to the hospital for evaluation. The doctor’s report stated that she was terrified and unable to walk when she arrived, and had suffered bruising to the cervix and vaginal tearing from the rape. She remained in the hospital for three days and required medical treatment for a month following the attack.

Since the attack the girl has been staying at the WLB center and was provided with a trip to see a gynecologist in the first week of March, as well as ongoing counseling sessions. Recently she requested to leave the shelter but is afraid to return home or go anywhere near Hpruso. She is still traumatized, but wishes to be placed in another town where she can attend school once again.

The perpetrator of this heinous sexual assault was kept in jail after the incident until being transferred to city court to be tried for the rape case. On March 15th he was determined guilty and convicted of child abduction, battery, and rape. He now faces a lifetime sentence in Loikaw prison.

The Town’s Response

Rape and sexual assault cases are not uncommon in Hpruso, mainly due to the proximity of an army base nearby. The military camp has faced many issues from the lack of care and support they offer soldiers, who then take out their aggression on townspeople. Protestors are now demanding the army take responsibility for their negligence and either move the camp farther out of town or pay compensation funds of 5 million kyat.

The rape of this young girl is precedent-setting because it is the first time that the issue of the military camp’s neglect and violence against women has been taken to court. The village as a whole supports measures being taken against the camp, and the Women Against Violence (WAV) program is going to provide the money to apply for a court order against them.

In order to legally protest in Burma, an approval permit is required. After speaking with the police and being denied the permit after three attempts, demonstrators decided to go ahead without permission. Protesting in Hpruso against the army camp has been ongoing, although so far there has been no response from the military.