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New Report Claims Burmese Chin Christian Women are Targets for Rape

ANS (07/06/06) — Ethnic Chin women in Burma are “under constant attack,” according to a new report which documents the use of rape by the Burma Army.

The preliminary report, “Hidden Crimes Against Chin Women,” has been written by the Women’s League of Chinland, an umbrella organization comprising nine human rights groups from different parts of Chin State .

British-based human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has worked closely with the Women’s League of Chinland, most recently on a fact-finding visit to the India-Burma border in March of this year.

Chin Women “are not safe in their fields nor in their own homes,” CSW said the report claims. “Burmese soldiers destroy Chin women’s lives … As the military presence increased, so did sexual crimes in Chin State .”

The report, a news release from CSW stated, documents 30 cases of rape by Burma Army soldiers against Chin women, but says that many more cases have not been reported because the victims are afraid to speak out.

“Rape is a reality in Chin State ,” CSW says the report states. “The fear of rape alone is a powerful weapon against all Chin. By assaulting Chin women, all of the Chin are demeaned and terribly disrespected.”

According to one victim, “outside of Chin State , you need to pay for women, but in Chin State payment is not necessary; they are free for the taking.”

The Chin are ninety per cent Christians, and have faced religious persecution in various forms for decades. Chin Christians suffer persecution on two counts – ethnicity and religion. “If you are double C, being a Chin and being a Christian, you have nothing in Burma , not a bright future at all,” a female Chin university student told interviewers.

In addition to rape, CSW stated the report claims that Burma Army soldiers are promised 100,000 kyat ( to marry a Chin woman. Giving Burman soldiers, who are predominantly Buddhist, incentives to marry Chin Christian women is part of the regime’s strategy of “Burmanisation,” the report claims.

“Hidden Crimes Against Chin Women” follows publications in recent years documenting widespread, systematic rape and sexual slavery in Karen, Shan and Mon States . CSW stated that allegations of rape were investigated and confirmed by the U.S. State Department following the publication of “ Licence to Rape,” by the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the Shan Human Rights Foundation in 2002.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a news release, “There is now abundant evidence of the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war in Burma . Widespread, systematic rape is a crime against humanity, and the international community should take action to prevent more vulnerable women in Burma becoming victims of this brutal regime. The United Nations Security Council has no time to lose – it must address the crisis in Burma immediately.”

CSW is a human rights organization which specializes in religious freedom and works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs.