Monday December 18th 2017

Insider

Archives

Women Against Violence

The program aims to eliminate Violence Against Women (VAW) through empowering women of Burma, giving direct assistance to women who suffer from violence, documenting cases of violations against women and advocating at different levels.

Goal

To eliminate Violence Against Women (VAW) through empowering women  of Burma at different levels

Objectives:

  • To build capacity of women in communities to participate in activities to stop violence against women.
  • To give practical assistance to women who have suffered any kinds of violence
  • To raise awareness on VAW amongst local communities
  • To intensify advocacy on the issue of state violence against women in Burma by challenging the SPDC at regional and international levels, including at UN forum

Activities:

  • Holding activities to raise awareness of VAW among women from Burma in border areas of Thailand, India, Bangladesh, China (including on Commemoration Days)
  • Mobilizing women in communities of the targeted areas around VAW issues,  including providing assistance and protection to women and girls affected by violence.
  • Providing a series of skills workshops and issue workshops related to VAW
  • Setting up and supporting regional WAVE teams in each area on VAW-related activities
  • Supporting advocacy activities of women’s organizations at different levels  (community/local/regional/international, including at UN level)
  • Continuous fund raising for program implementation

Background:

Women of Burma are increasingly vulnerable to violence, including rape and various forms of sexual violence, due to the increased militarization and anti-insurgency measures in ethnic states by the Burmese regime, currently named the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). This has driven many women to become refugees and migrants in neighbouring countries, where they continue to be vulnerable to many forms of violence.

The majority of state violence incidents have been committed in the ethnic areas. Women’s groups from Burma based along the border have been giving presentations on this issue at international forums including UN annual sessions of CSW and CHR. In June 2002, the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), a founding member of WLB,  jointly produced a report, “Licence to Rape” with the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) documenting 173 rape incidents involving 625 women and girls in  Central Shan State from 1996-2001.

The report attracted considerable international media attention, and friends and networks around the world have supported the resulting campaign “Stop Licence to Rape in Burma” locally and internationally.

The impact of the report and the international support given to the campaign was a tremendous morale boost for SWAN and WLB members and non-members. They became more motivated to work in their coordinated and collective efforts to fight back effectively to protect women against the state violence being committed by the Burmese military. In August 2003, WLB decided to launch a “Stop State Violence against Women” campaign.

In November, 2003, WLB organized the first human rights documentation training for Beijing Plus 10 with the collaboration of the Center for Refugee Research, University of New South Wales (UNSW), funded by donations from the students of UNSW and support from the Burma Relief Centre as a pilot stage.

15 women from 9 organizations based in Thailand attended the training workshop. The workshop and its discussions generated much interest and inspired more women to do human rights documentation, and compile data to produce reports. They participated in the Asia Pacific NGO Forum for Beijing Plus Ten (B+10) in July, 2004.  With the technical assistance of the Center for Refugee Research, University of New South Wales, this team produced the WLB’s report “System of Impunity”exposing nationwide sexual violence committed by the Burmese military regime’s armed forces and authorities, which was launched at UNESCAP for B+10 in  September, 2004.1

WLB’s 3rd Congress decided to specifically address the issue of VAW as a WLB programme, which was named Women Against Violence (WAV).  The objectives include: to empower women’s organizations, both members and non-members, to work together at the community level to address the issue of violence against women (VAW), and to advocate on VAW issues both locally and internationally.

After several meetings among network partners with extensive experience in VAW issues in the region, WAV formulated and conceptualized its program. The program aims to enable each women’s organization to be able to carry out action-oriented activities with a feminist perspective, together with other groups in their areas, and as WLB as a whole. From July to December 2005, WAV organized consultation meetings in 8 areas: 4 in Thailand (Mae Hong Son, Mae Sot, Chiang Mai and Sangklaburi), 2 areas in India (New Delhi, and Morah on the India-Burma border), one area on the China-Burma border and one in Bangladesh. Based on the findings of the consultations, working groups were formed in 6 different areas to address VAW issues at the community level in 2006. Each working group consists of 6-10 members from different organizations based in each area. In December 2006, WAV was able to organize a consultation meeting with the members of the Women’s League of Chinland, WLB’s network partner in Aizawl in Mizoram, India. Currently WAV supports the WAV exchanges for the groups there.

Activities of regional working teams include documenting women’s stories or data on violence against women cases and providing practical assistance to women who have suffered from violence, including counselling, temporary shelter, medical support and also linking with other NGOs for legal redress. These teams also organize activities on commemoration days such as International Women’s Day, Aung San Suu Kyi’s Birthday and Stop VAW Day (16 Days Activism).

 

1 Right after the congress, ten young advocates/documentors  from the HR Documentation training developed a lobby document entitled, “Any progress for the Lives of Women in Burma since Beijing?” for Beijing Plus Ten in NY. They also attended the conference from February 28 – March 11, 2005, and lobbied different government missions and networks using the lobby documents.  Most of them are now acting as focal points for WLB-VAW program linking between their mother organizations and WLB and their communities.