Despite steps toward reform in Burma in 2012, the Burmese army continues to employ rape as a tactic of war in the ethnic states. According to a June 2012 report by the Kachin Women’s Association, “Ongoing Impunity,” a male porter witnessed the repeated gang-rape of two young women who were also conscripted to be porters:
On the third night, the senior officers started to rape the two girls. They were raped for the whole night and were passed on from place to place among them. I saw they could hardly walk the next morning: one girl cried and came out from the army barracks and another girl looked very weak and leaned over the tree.
We had to stay together with the soldiers, not very close to where the officers were staying, but I could see everything clearly.
On the next morning, the captain took one of the girls and forced her to take bath with him. I know he was from a Meiktila-based battalion because of his insignia. All the porters were asked to collect water for his shower. He bathed naked, and forced the girl to clean his whole body. She also had to rub him with a towel. After this, he forced the girl to take a shower naked, threatening that he would kill her if she didn’t. She had to bathe in the open space where everyone could see.
On another morning I saw the other girl rush out from an army officer’s hut. While she was crying and saying her prayers on her knees, she was slapped on the head and told "Don’t pray! It won’t help you. Where is your God? You think he can do anything. So where is he now?" Then he slapped her on her face again and I saw she had lost one of her teeth and her face was swollen.
During lunchtime, when we (porters) could have time together, the girls told us that the officers took methamphetamines and raped them like animals.
In “School for Rape,” a Karen woman describes her rape by a government soldier:
One night last November … more than 60 government soldiers from 99 Division came through our village. I heard many soldiers pass my house … then one soldier came straight into my house, and he put out the light right away so I couldn't see his face. … He said, "Lay down, mother." I refused, so he pushed me and I fell on my children. They started crying, and the soldier jumped on me and started to wrestle with me. Then he put his rifle barrel against my face; it felt so cold and made me so afraid I can't tell you. He put the barrel against my chest and pushed me down again. He grabbed my throat and said "If you scream, I'll choke you!" and tried to slap me but I turned my face away. So he took his gun and held it against one side of my face and pulled out his knife and held it against the other side, and said, "If you fight or cry or shout, I'll kill you!" My sarong had already come apart while we were fighting. He raped me and I couldn’t even scream.
Also in “School for Rape,” a Karen woman recalls being gang raped while being kept as a porter:
I was kept as a porter in October. They said it would only be for four days, but they kept me for one month and four days. … At night I couldn't sleep because I often saw guards come and take the youngest girls away. … Two times I had to carry separately from the rest of the group, and ended up alone in the forest with the soldiers at night. Both times the soldiers came to me and beat me, showed me their guns to keep me quiet, and then raped me. The first time I was raped by six soldiers, and the second night this happened I was raped by four soldiers.
In “License to Rape,” a Shan woman describes harsh treatment by her family following a rape:
I lived in a small hut in the jungle with my husband and two children. There, we looked after our buffaloes and cows. One day, my husband took our two children into the jungle to hunt birds and left me alone in the hut. An SPDC soldier from LIB 333 base in Murng Sart came into our yard to steal our bananas. Although I can’t speak Burmese that well, I tried to talk to him and to take our bananas back. I called out to my husband, but he was so far away at that time, he didn’t hear me. The soldier grabbed me and kicked my legs until I fell to the ground. Then he grabbed my legs. I tried to escape, but he was stronger than I am. He raped me for an hour and a half.
When my husband came home (after the rape), I told him what had happened. He was furious at me and beat me. The relationship between me and my husband suffered tremendously as a result of the rape. Every day, my husband and children would say, "Prostitute! If you want to sell sex, we will build you a small hut in the jungle. You can sell sex there." I felt very hurt by these words, until finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. I divorced my husband. When I went to see my children, they said: "Whore, you are not our mother, don’t come see us any more," and drove me away. My husband said: "You didn’t control yourself. You had sex with another man. You are no longer my wife. Leave our house right now." Eventually I decided to come to Thailand.
Human Rights Advisor to the Delegation of the European Commission to India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Sri Lanka, Parul Sharma, documents a Chin woman’s experience with military authorities:
The army soldiers used to come and stay at our house and behave as they liked us. Sometimes, the Chin National Army soldiers also came to our village. On 5th January 2003, the CAN soldiers came to our village and the Burmese army heard about this so they entered our village on 9th January 2003. The Burmese soldiers came to our house and accused us of supporting and helping the CAN. They came and said, "Why do you support CAN and why did you cook for the CAN people?" They beat me and my husband. They took my husband to Falam town and put him in prison. He never returned. They told me that they wanted to take me to prison too but my child was only six months old. They told me to sign a piece of paper which said "I do not support the CAN people." I had to agree to whatever they said. I went to Falam town to sign on 30th January 2003. I left my baby with my mother at a village. When I got to the military camp, two officers asked me to go inside the room. There was one officer inside the room. As soon as I got there, he threatened me because he knew that I could not speak Burmese very well. I fought back but he pointed a pistol at my forehead. He tore my top and all my underwear. He hit my thighs hard so that my legs could not move anymore. Then, he brutally raped me. He told me that if I told anyone he would kill me. There were guards outside the room but they did not bother to help me.
Again at the end of February, I had to go to the army camp at Falam town. I was so afraid that I took one girl along with me hoping this would protect me. But they did not let her go inside the house with me. The same army officer was in the room. As soon as I got inside the room, he raped me again. I decided to flee because I knew that I would have to go again and again and get raped. I fled to India on 15th March 2003. ... Here, I live in Delhi and have got status from UNHCR. In order to eat, we need to collect curry which the local people threw away at the market. This is how we live.
A 26-year-old Rohingha woman seeking refuge in Bangladesh described her rape:
A man from NaSaKa [Burma’s border security force] came to my house. He kicked the door and told me I had to go and work as a sentry instead of my husband. I had to go immediately with my young child and without food. Later in the evening while I was at my post someone else from NaSaKa came. He told me "your husband is not there, I will stay with you; I want to live with you." That night the man raped me in the shed in front of my boy.
We [women] feel at peace in Bangladesh. There is no food and some problems, but there is no rape, we have peace.