In Myanmar, Women In Detention Experienced Sexual Abuse And Cruelty
|News Highlight: Five women from Myanmar have exposed the abuse they faced when detained for protesting against a military coup earlier this year. These women said that they were abused and tortured in the detention system after arrests.|
Protests have swept the country since Myanmar’s military seized control in February, and women have played a key role in the opposition movement.
According to human rights organisations, the military in Myanmar (also known as Burma) has utilised disappearances, hostage-taking, and torture tactics in the past, but the brutality has increased since the coup.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a non-profit human rights organisation, 1,318 civilians have been slain in military crackdowns on the pro-democracy movement as of December 8, including 93 women.
At least eight of the women died in detention with four of them dying as a result of abuse in an interrogation centre.
Over 10,000 people have been detained in all, with over 2,000 women among them.
|Read: Why Is The Military Taking Control Of Myanmar?|
Story of Sexual Abuse
Ein Soe May, a democracy activist, was imprisoned for nearly six months, the first ten days of which she claims she was sexually abused and tortured in one of Myanmar’s renowned interrogation centres.
Soe May told the BBC that she was arrested and shoved into the back of a van one morning while making placards for a protest.
“It was already night when I arrived [at an undisclosed location]. I was blindfolded and made to dodge imaginary objects as I made my way to the interrogation room, so they could make a fool of me,” Soe May said.
Her captors questioned her, and for every answer, they didn’t like they hit her with a bamboo stick.
Soe May said she was also repeatedly pressed for details of her sex life. One interrogator threatened: “Do you know what we do to the women that end up here? We rape and kill them.”
She was then sexually assaulted.
“They pulled down the oversized top I was wearing, they touched me as they did it, exposing my body,” she said.
Story of Secret Investigation
Ms Lin, a 50-year-old campaigner, revealed how she was held in solitary confinement for more than 40 days inside Yangon’s Insein prison. Ms Lin had nothing in her cell but the clothes she was wearing, including medication that she needed. She became progressively weak during her incarceration.
“I would lie in the dark and worry I was going to die,” she said. “Sometimes, I heard shouting and crying from nearby cells. I kept thinking about who was being beaten.”
Denial of Fundamental Human Rights
Manny Maung, an HRW researcher, told the BBC that in certain jails, up to 500 women are jammed into chambers that can only hold 100 captives. Because they can’t all lie down at the same time, they’d have to take turns sleeping.
She also claimed that they were being denied basic sanitation calling this a “fundamental right denial.”
“The women who had just arrived from the interrogation centres had wounds that hadn’t healed, whilst some were menstruating and were only allowed to shower after seven days in detention,” she said.