Advocates in Myanmar are calling for expedited approval of new legislation to combat violence against women. The government has been working on a draft Anti-Violence Against Women Law for more than three years. Currently, Myanmar has no laws protecting women from domestic violence or sexual harassment. The country’s “colonial-era” laws against rape are limited and rarely enforced. Marital rape is legal, except against very young girls.
Good data on the prevalence of violence against women is not available in Myanmar, which is characterized by the Thompson Reuters Foundation as “male-dominated and socially conservative.” Police collect statistics only on reported rapes, while shame, fear and social pressure prevent many women from reporting sexual and other violence. However, advocates say several recent killings of women, mostly by current or former intimate partners, highlight the need to end impunity for all forms of violence against women.
The Gender Equality Network, a coalition of local non-governmental organizations, is working with the government of Myanmar to draft the anti-violence law. The group released a briefing paper last year evaluating Myanmar’s existing laws against the requirements of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, acceded to by Myanmar in 1997. The briefing paper found that extensive legislative reforms, including a comprehensive “Anti-Violence Against Women” law, were necessary for Myanmar to fully comply with CEDAW.
Compiled from: Lei Win, Thin, Myanmar activists demand law to ban violence against women, Thompson Reuters Foundation (September 30, 2014); Myanmar Laws and CEDAW: The Case for Anti-Violence Against Women Laws, Gender Equality Network (January 2013).