The horrific plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar appears to be particularly difficult (and deadly) to women and girls, a new Associated Press investigation shows.
According to the special report, Myanmar’s security forces are using rape as a weapon of war. The AP interviewed 29 women and found that the practice is used as a “calculated tool of terror” to exterminate the ethnic group.
According to one of the testimonials, a 13-year-old identified only by the letter R lost her father to a knife attack carried out by soldiers. Later, 10 soldiers came to her house, took her brothers and beat them, and then ripped her jewelry and took her clothes off. According to R, she was then brutally raped by the men, who took turns and even spit at her. She eventually passed out due to the pain and was later rushed to the Bangladesh border to see a doctor.
Another woman identified as M told the AP that she was home with her son, feeding him rice, when the military shot at her teenage brother. As her husband and children ran outside, M, who was eight months pregnant at the time, decided to stay at her brother’s side.
After two days, her brother succumbed to his injuries. Shortly after, four soldiers stormed into her house.
She was dragged outside and stripped naked after being slapped and punched. The soldiers then beat her once again and threatened to kill her when she screamed. Eventually, one of the soldiers started raping her as others held her down. As a second soldier forced himself against her, she started kicking back, finally pushing them away.
M gave birth to her child that night in her house, but the baby girl was dead.
After her husband came back, they found out that soldiers had destroyed their land.
“They humiliated us, they destroyed our land and farm, they took our cows, they took our produce,” she told the AP. “How would I go back? They destroyed our livelihood.”
Like R and M, other women who talked to the AP shared stories involving military men who not only raped them in an effort to push them away, but who also either chased or killed their men, family members, and sometimes even their children.
Unfortunately, Myanmar officials continue to claim that the military has nothing to do with these incidents while the country’s government also turns a blind eye to the abuse, the violence, and the deaths.
Despite pressure from the United Nations to bring about an end to the persecution of the Rohingya, it’s unlikely that change will come anytime soon, prompting many to question whether Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, should have her Nobel Peace Prize taken away.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS, Alkis Konstantinidis