Burma: Ethnic women at home & migrant women abroad suffer physical and sexual violence Print E-mail
 Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Plight of Abused Burmese Women Highlighted on International Day


By LAWI WENG

The plight of women in Burma’s conflict areas and of Burmese women migrant workers who suffer exploitation and abuse was highlighted in statements marking Tuesday’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The Thailand-based Women’s League of Burma (WLB), which held events marking the occasion at several places along the Thai-Burmese border, urged the UN to put pressure on the Burmese military government to act to prevent sexual violence against women in conflict areas.  The WLB also urged the UN to press the Burmese regime to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against women in ethnic areas.

Than Zaw, secretary of the Bangkok-based Migrant Karen Labor Union (MKLU), drew attention to the plight of many Burmese migrant women employed as domestic workers who suffer physical and sexual violence and exploitation.

Than Zaw said the MKLU dealt with about four such cases a month. Many abused women failed to report abuse because they feared deportation to Burma, he said.

Human Rights Watch said millions of female domestic workers in Asia suffered sexual violence. Most of them were unable to seek legal redress because governments failed to enact laws to protect them.

“There are countless cases of employers threatening, humiliating, beating, raping, and sometimes killing workers,” said Nisha Varia, Deputy Director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch.

In a message marking International Women’s Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said more should be done to enforce existing laws.

 “We need to combat attitudes and behavior that condone, tolerate, excuse or ignore violence committed against women,” he said. “And we need to increase funding for services for victims and survivors.”