License to Rape: How Burma’s Military Employs Systematic Sexualized Violence


Phyu Phyu Sann and Akila Radhakrishnan
Guest Bloggers
Women Under Siege
March 15, 2012


Last week, a young woman from the Karen ethnic minority in Burma reported being “beaten, drugged, and sexually assaulted by two men wearing army fatigues.” In November 2011, reports emerged that four women were being kept as sex slaves by the Burmese military near the Kachin-China border; forced to cook and clean during the day and gang-raped at night by the soldiers in the Light Infantry Battalion 321. These reports, unfortunately, are not rare.

Such incidents are a part of a pattern of consistent and systematic sexualized violence perpetrated by the Burmese military, particularly against women in Burma’s ethnic groups. In a seminal 2002 report, the Shan Human Rights Foundation and the Shan Women’s Action Network found that there appears to be “a concerted strategy by the Burmese army troops to rape Shan women as a part of their anti-insurgency activities. The incidents detailed were committed by soldiers from 52 different battalions. Eighty-three percent of the rapes were committed by officers, usually in front of their own troops… .Out of the total 173 documented incidents, in only one case was a perpetrator punished by his commanding officer.”

Rape, has been, and is being used in Burma as a strategic weapon of war.

To read the complete posting at the Women Under Siege site, click here.