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Reports about women of Burma by national, regional and international NGOs

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: CEDAW documents on discrimination against women
Description/subject: The Convention, the Committee, Myanmar sessions, Myanmar Govt and CSO documents
Language: English
Source/publisher: CEDAW
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 20 July 2016


Individual Documents

Title: Women’s Access to Justice in the Plural Legal System of Myanmar
Date of publication: 22 April 2016
Description/subject: "Justice Base, with support from UN Women, led a participatory action research project over eight months in 2014 to examine women’s access to justice in the plural legal system of Myanmar. Situated in the constellation of various justice studies being conducted in the country, this report places fundamental importance on documenting women’s experiences with and perceptions of the formal and informal legal systems. Researchers sought to identify the formal and informal processes, decision-makers, and institutions that play a role in resolving disputes involving women in Myanmar. In communities with little access to government legal institutions or where the formal system is not used or not functioning, the project emphasised recording customary legal processes and how they impacted women’s justice claims. The intent was not to determine which system was “better” or more favourable to women, but rather to illuminate the justice obstacles and enablers in each. This qualitative study was conducted in four geographic target areas that included urban and semi-rural areas of Chin State, Mon State, Kachin State and the city of Yangon. Local research teams used focus group discussions, key informant interviews and participatory mapping activities to collect information from over 400 community members, legal practitioners, local administrators and other key stakeholders. Consultations and data validation sessions were iteratively held with partner organisations to further ensure that women and peer groups could articulate their positions and preferred strategies for improving their access to justice. The project did not focus on specified thematic issues (for example, land rights or domestic violence), but rather provided a broad space for women and men from target communities to self-identify what they saw as women’s most pressing legal concerns. Research participants identified domestic violence, sexual assault and traditional inheritance practices as the most prevalent injustices women faced. Women also described these issues as the least likely to be submitted for adjudication by formal or informal legal mechanisms. The avoidance of justice systems in response to these events was explained in part by several women and men respondents who defined family matters – those between a husband and wife or parents and children – as situated outside the jurisdiction of law..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Justice Base, UN Women
Format/size: pdf (1.5MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www2.unwomen.org/~/media/field%20office%20eseasia/docs/publications/2016/04/myanmar%20resear...
Date of entry/update: 05 July 2016


Title: The Burden of War - Women bear burden of displacement
Date of publication: 03 November 2012
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Worsening conflict and abuses by Burmese government troops in northern Shan State have displaced over 2,000 Palaung villagers from fifteen villages in three townships since March 2011. About 1,000, mainly women and children, remain in three IDP settlements in Mantong and Namkham townships, facing serious shortages of food and medicine; most of the rest have dispersed to find work in China. Burmese troops have been launching offensives to crush the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), to secure control of strategic trading and investment areas on the Chinese border, particularly the route of China’s trans-Burma oil and gas pipelines. In rural Palaung areas, patrols from sixteen Burma Army battalions and local militia have been forcibly conscripting villagers as soldiers and porters, looting livestock and property, and torturing and killing villagers suspected of supporting the resistance. This has caused entire villages to become abandoned. Interviews conducted by PWO in September 2012 show that the burden of displacement is falling largely on women, as most men have fled or migrated to work elsewhere. The ratio of women to men of working age in the IDP camps is 4:1. Women, including pregnant mothers, had to walk for up to a week through the jungle to reach the camps, carrying their children and possessions, and avoiding Burmese army patrols and landmines. Elderly people were left behind. Little aid has reached the IDP settlements, particular the largest camp housing over 500 in a remote mountainous area north of Manton, where shortages of water, food and medicines are causing widespread disease. Mothers are struggling to feed their families on loans of rice from local villagers, and have taken their daughters out of school. Some women have left children with relatives and gone to find work in China. PWO is calling urgently for aid to these IDPs, and for political pressure on Burma’s government to end its military offensives and abuses, pull back troops from conflict areas, and begin meaningful political dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Palaung Women's Organization
Format/size: pdf (1.7MB-OBL version; 7.29MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://womenofburma.org/Report/2012/Palaung%20Women's%20Organization%20%282012%29%20-%20The%20B...
http://womenofburma.org/the-burden-of-war-women-bear-burden-of-displacement/
Date of entry/update: 06 November 2012


Title: Forgotten Workforce: Experiences of women migrants from Burma in Ruili, China (Burmese)
Date of publication: February 2012
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Burma’s continuing political repression and economic deterioration, coupled with China’s rapid growth, have caused a new phenomenon over the past few years: large-scale northward migration from Burma to China. The Yunnanese border town of Ruili (called Shweli in Burmese) has seen an estimated tenfold increase in the number of migrants from Burma since 2006, with numbers now exceeding 100,000. Formerly mainly employed in the jade, transport and sex industries, migrants are now working in a range of sectors, including domestic work, restaurants and hotels, sales, construction and manufacturing industries. Migrants are arriving from all parts of central and eastern Burma, particularly from the central dry zone, where continuing drought has deprived farmers of their traditional livelihoods. In Sagaing and Magwe, whole villages are draining of young people coming to find work in China. A large proportion of the migrants are women. During 2010 the Burmese Women’s Union (BWU) conducted in-depth interviews with 32 of these women from various work sectors. Most were from Burma’s central divisions. About half were high school graduates, and some had even graduated from university, but none had been able to find jobs inside Burma. The migrant women interviewed by BWU in Ruili revealed persistent patterns of work exploitation, occupational health and safety hazards and mistreatment by employers throughout different work sectors. A particularly dangerous kind of work being carried out by migrant women in Ruili is processing of petrified wood, imported from Mandalay Division and sold as highly valued home ornaments throughout China. In hundreds of small workshops, women are paid a pittance to sit for long hours sanding and polishing wood, using hazardous electric equipment and chemical solvents, without protective clothing or health insurance. On top of general exploitative work conditions, women also face gender discrimination, receiving lower pay than men in most sectors, no maternity leave and benefits, and suffering sexual harassment from employers. Health and safety risks are particularly high for the several hundred Burmese women working in the sex industry in Ruili and Jiegao, who are often forced to have unprotected sex, and face violence from clients, especially those who are drug users There are no existing mechanisms for foreign migrant workers to seek redress for cases of exploitation and infringement of their rights. They also forbidden from organising any workers’ committees or unions. This has occasionally caused workers’ pent-up resentment to erupt into violence against employers. There are no signs that the migration from Burma will ease in the foreseeable future. Burma’s November 2010 elections were neither free nor fair, and power remains constitutionally firmly in the hands of the military, which continues to receive the lion’s share of the national budget, while health and education needs remain critically underfunded. During 2011 the Burma Army has launched fierce new offensives against ethnic resistance groups seeking to protect their communities and environment from damaging resource exploitation. The military mismanagement at the root of Burma’s economic woes thus looks sets to continue, together with the outflow of migration to neighbouring countries, including China. Mechanisms to protect the rights of foreign migrant workers and prevent further injustices, particularly against women in China are thus urgently needed."
Language: Burmese
Source/publisher: Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
Format/size: pdf (1.8MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmesewomensunion.org
Date of entry/update: 24 February 2012


Title: Forgotten Workforce: Experiences of women migrants from Burma in Ruili, China (English)
Date of publication: February 2012
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Burma’s continuing political repression and economic deterioration, coupled with China’s rapid growth, have caused a new phenomenon over the past few years: large-scale northward migration from Burma to China. The Yunnanese border town of Ruili (called Shweli in Burmese) has seen an estimated tenfold increase in the number of migrants from Burma since 2006, with numbers now exceeding 100,000. Formerly mainly employed in the jade, transport and sex industries, migrants are now working in a range of sectors, including domestic work, restaurants and hotels, sales, construction and manufacturing industries. Migrants are arriving from all parts of central and eastern Burma, particularly from the central dry zone, where continuing drought has deprived farmers of their traditional livelihoods. In Sagaing and Magwe, whole villages are draining of young people coming to find work in China. A large proportion of the migrants are women. During 2010 the Burmese Women’s Union (BWU) conducted in-depth interviews with 32 of these women from various work sectors. Most were from Burma’s central divisions. About half were high school graduates, and some had even graduated from university, but none had been able to find jobs inside Burma. The migrant women interviewed by BWU in Ruili revealed persistent patterns of work exploitation, occupational health and safety hazards and mistreatment by employers throughout different work sectors. A particularly dangerous kind of work being carried out by migrant women in Ruili is processing of petrified wood, imported from Mandalay Division and sold as highly valued home ornaments throughout China. In hundreds of small workshops, women are paid a pittance to sit for long hours sanding and polishing wood, using hazardous electric equipment and chemical solvents, without protective clothing or health insurance. On top of general exploitative work conditions, women also face gender discrimination, receiving lower pay than men in most sectors, no maternity leave and benefits, and suffering sexual harassment from employers. Health and safety risks are particularly high for the several hundred Burmese women working in the sex industry in Ruili and Jiegao, who are often forced to have unprotected sex, and face violence from clients, especially those who are drug users There are no existing mechanisms for foreign migrant workers to seek redress for cases of exploitation and infringement of their rights. They also forbidden from organising any workers’ committees or unions. This has occasionally caused workers’ pent-up resentment to erupt into violence against employers. There are no signs that the migration from Burma will ease in the foreseeable future. Burma’s November 2010 elections were neither free nor fair, and power remains constitutionally firmly in the hands of the military, which continues to receive the lion’s share of the national budget, while health and education needs remain critically underfunded. During 2011 the Burma Army has launched fierce new offensives against ethnic resistance groups seeking to protect their communities and environment from damaging resource exploitation. The military mismanagement at the root of Burma’s economic woes thus looks sets to continue, together with the outflow of migration to neighbouring countries, including China. Mechanisms to protect the rights of foreign migrant workers and prevent further injustices, particularly against women in China are thus urgently needed.
Language: English and Burmese
Source/publisher: Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
Format/size: pdf (764K-English; 2.95-Burmese)
Alternate URLs: http://womenofburma.org/Report/Forgotten-workforce-Bur.pdf
Date of entry/update: 24 February 2012


Title: Voices for Change: Domestic Violence and Gender Discrimination in the Palaung Area (Burmese)
Date of publication: 25 November 2011
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "This report documents how women in the Palaung area are affected by domestic violence and gender discrimination. Survey results collected by PWO show that almost all respondents had experienced or seen physical violence within families in their community, and that physical violence is occurring with alarming frequency, in many cases on an almost daily basis. PWO’s research shows that gender discrimination is widespread in the Palaung area, and that many people’s attitudes conform to traditional gender stereotypes which assume that women must fulfil the role of homemaker and accept sole responsibility for childcare duties. Since the 2010 election, Burma’s military-backed regime has failed to take any effective action to promote women’s rights and gender equality, or to uphold its commitments to CEDAW. Burma remains one of only two ASEAN countries lacking a specific law criminalising domestic violence, and PWO’s research has found that there are no government-led projects to raise awareness of domestic violence and women’s rights in the rural areas of northern Shan State, where the vast majority of the Palaung population live. The ‘new’ regime has yet to address the economic and social crises fuelling domestic violence in the Palaung area. The economic crisis afflicting the Palaung people as a direct result of the state’s monopoly of the tea industry, as well as the increase in opium cultivation and addiction in the Palaung area since the 2010 election have directly contributed to the problem of domestic violence, as males resort to physical violence as a means of expressing their anger and frustration with their situation. More than five decades of civil war have bred a culture of male domination, fear, and violence in Burma. Palaung people, especially males, have been socialised into this culture, and see violence as a necessary means of asserting their authority over their wives, in the same way as the state uses violence to assert its authority over Burma’s ethnic nationalities. The regime appears to have no intention of bringing an end to Burma’s culture of violence, and continues to wage war against ethnic rebels in northern Shan State. 5 Domestic violence has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities. Apart from the obvious physical impact of domestic violence, women also suffer psychologically. Domestic violence threatens the stability of the family unit, often has a negative impact on children’s education, and acts as an obstacle to community development. Burma’s military-backed regime needs to recognise domestic violence and gender discrimination as obstacles to achieving a peaceful society in Burma, and to embark upon a program of genuine political reform which addresses the social and economic factors fuelling domestic violence and gender discrimination."
Language: Burmese
Source/publisher: Palaung Women's Organization (PWO)
Format/size: pdf (1.91MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.palaungwomen.com
Date of entry/update: 25 January 2012


Title: Voices for Change: Domestic Violence and Gender Discrimination in the Palaung Area (English)
Date of publication: 25 November 2011
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "This report documents how women in the Palaung area are affected by domestic violence and gender discrimination. Survey results collected by PWO show that almost all respondents had experienced or seen physical violence within families in their community, and that physical violence is occurring with alarming frequency, in many cases on an almost daily basis. PWO’s research shows that gender discrimination is widespread in the Palaung area, and that many people’s attitudes conform to traditional gender stereotypes which assume that women must fulfi l the role of homemaker and accept sole responsibility for childcare duties. Since the 2010 election, Burma’s military-backed regime has failed to take any effective action to promote women’s rights and gender equality, or to uphold its commitments to CEDAW. Burma remains one of only two ASEAN countries lacking a specifi c law criminalising domestic violence, and PWO’s’ research has found that there are no government-led projects to raise awareness of domestic violence and women’s rights in the rural areas of northern Shan State, where the vast majority of the Palaung population live. The ‘new’ regime has yet to address the economic and social crises fuelling domestic violence in the Palaung area. The economic crisis affl icting the Palaung people as a direct result of the state’s monopoly of the tea industry, as well as the increase in opium cultivation and addiction in the Palaung area since the 2010 election have directly contributed to the problem of domestic violence, as males resort to physical violence as a means of expressing their anger and frustration with their situation. More than fi ve decades of civil war have bred a culture of male domination, fear, and violence in Burma. Palaung people, especially males, have been socialised into this culture, and see violence as a necessary means of asserting their authority over their wives, in the same way as the state uses violence to assert its authority over Burma’s ethnic nationalities. The regime appears to have no intention of bringing an end to Burma’s culture of violence, and continues to wage war against ethnic rebels in northern Shan State. 5 Domestic violence has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities. Apart from the obvious physical impact of domestic violence, women also suffer psychologically. Domestic violence threatens the stability of the family unit, often has a negative impact on children’s education, and acts as an obstacle to community development. Burma’s military-backed regime needs to recognise domestic violence and gender discrimination as obstacles to achieving a peaceful society in Burma, and to embark upon a program of genuine political reform which addresses the social and economic factors fuelling domestic violence and gender discrimination."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Palaung Women's Organisation
Format/size: pdf (1.5MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.palaungwomen.com
Date of entry/update: 25 January 2012


Title: Walking Amongst Sharp Knives - The unsung courage of Karen women village chiefs in conflict areas of Eastern Burma
Date of publication: February 2010
Description/subject: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "In lowland Karen areas in Eastern Burma women are increasingly taking on the role of village chief, as male village chiefs are more likely to be killed by the Burma Army. This change, overturning deeply engrained tradition, has put women further into the front line of human rights abuses being committed by the Burma Army and their allies. This report by the Karen Women Organization, based on the testimonies of 95 women chiefs, exposes for the first time the impacts of this dramatic cultural shift. The abuses experienced or witnessed by the women chiefs include: • Crucifixion • People burnt alive • Rape, including gang rape • Many forms of torture, including beatings and “water torture” • People buried up to their heads in earth and beaten to death • Arbitrary executions • Beheadings • Slave labour... Many of the abuses described in this report would appear to be in breach of international law, including five articles of the Rome Statute, of the International Criminal Court. The practice of electing women as village chiefs has spread through lowland Karen areas of Eastern Burma since the 1980s, as Burma’s military regime has expanded control and increased persecution of these war-torn communities. With men increasingly reluctant to risk their lives as chiefs, women have stepped in to assume leadership in the hope of mitigating abuses. However, testimonies of women chiefs show that, far from being exempt from the brutality of the Burma Army, they have faced ongoing systematic abuse, including gender-based violence. This report is based on interviews with women chiefs from five districts of Eastern Burma: Papun (Mutraw), Dooplaya, Thaton (Doo Tha Htu), Nyaunglebin (Kler Lwee Htu), and Pa-an. They are aged from 25 to 82. The average length of time they served as chiefs was nine years; about one third of the women are still serving as chiefs. The women chiefs not only describe their daily struggle to fulfill the constant demands of the Burma Army for labour, food, building materials, “taxes” and intelligence, but also testify to their systematic use of terror tactics to subjugate villagers and prevent them from cooperating with the Karen resistance. Apart from bearing witness to numerous instances of abuse and murder of fellow-villagers, the chiefs themselves have suffered brutal punishment for alleged non-cooperation. One third of the women interviewed had been physically beaten or tortured. The women also testify to ongoing impunity for sexual violence. They describe incidents of gang-rape, rape of girl-children and rape-murder for which they were unable to seek redress. They also describe being forced to provide “comfort women” for the Burma Army troops. The women chiefs’ own vulnerability to gender-based violence has been deliberately exploited by the Burma Army as a means of intimidation. Rape of women chiefs was described as common, and several chiefs described being gang-raped. Pregnant and nursing women chiefs were also subjected to forced labour and grueling interrogation. Despite the constant threat of violence, the women’s stories reveal their extraordinary strength and courage in assuming leadership and seeking to protect the rights of their communities. They have repeatedly dared to challenge and complain to Burma Army troops about abuses and in some cases managed to secure compensation and even rescinding of unjust orders. The women chiefs have also suffered great personal stress from being unable to fulfill their traditional household roles and care for their families. Several were blamed by their husbands for being “married to the SPDC” because they had to follow their orders. This report provides poignant insight into the challenges of women assuming leadership in a patriarchal and militarized society. The KWO hopes that this report will help bring recognition of these brave women for their sacrifices not only at the front line of abuses by Burma’s military dictatorship, but at the forefront of the struggle for gender equality in Burma..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Women's Organization
Format/size: pdf (2.31MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs08/WalkingAmongstSharpKnives.pdf
Date of entry/update: 25 February 2010


Title: Do dreams come true? ‘Illegal’ young female Shan refugees in Northern Thailand: coping with contradicting (in)securities.
Date of publication: June 2009
Description/subject: "...This thesis consists out of seven chapters. The next chapter on theory will address important political and theoretical debates within the arena of displacement and refugee studies. Chapter three will present the methodological approach taken within the research. Chapters four and five are the data chapters of this thesis addressing various layers of insecurities through thematic chapters. The chapters are based on the most important themes that arose during fieldwork. How young Shan women first reacted to state terror, and the impact of this on their daily lives, is highlighted in chapter four. Chapter five will explain what it means to be a young Shan female, revealing the daily life practices and the influences they have on life chances and future aspirations. Finally, I shall conclude by referring to the debates discussed within the theory chapter. The key words of this research are displacement, young female Shan refugees, future aspirations and human (in)security..."
Author/creator: Ursula Cats
Language: English
Source/publisher: Masters Thesis - Social and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Format/size: pdf (2.4MB-reduced version; 4.9MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs09/MASTER-THESIS-Final-version1-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 15 September 2010