The murder of 11 school children in Sagaing region reawakened the world to the brutality of the junta’s murderous coup in Burma/ Myanmar. Just after noon on September 16 in Let Yet Kone village, junta helicopter gunships rained heavy artillery on a temple school, killing 11 children and injuring 17 others. On August 2 in Chin State, Paletwa township, Junta troops shot at a ferry carrying 10 primary school students who were on their way home from school, killing two children and injuring three. On September 16 in Shan State, Pekhon township, the junta killed two young girls aged seven and ten when they shelled a monastery that was being used as a shelter for 300 Internally Displaced People (IDPs).
These attacks were deliberate, and they are not isolated incidences. It is estimated that the junta has killed at least 380 children since the coup, and not just from being caught in the cross fire, but deliberate targeted attacks as part of the junta’s strategy to cause immense suffering and fear among the population.
There is growing evidence of rape being used as a weapon of war as women experience an escalation in violent sexual attacks and gender-based violence. On August 28, the junta raided two villages in Kani township, Sagaing region, detaining 62 women. The junta raped at least seven women between the ages of 25 and 40, including a woman with a mental disability. Earlier that month on August 19, in another village in the township, a 40-year old woman was raped by junta soldiers before being killed along with her 70-year old mother. On August 11, 18 dead bodies were found in Yin Mar Bin township, Sagaing Region. Two of the victims were women, a 16-year old girl and a 20-year old woman, who were found raped and killed near a cliff. In early August, a woman from Magway Region, Seik Phyu[MvZ1] was brutally tortured, raped and killed and thrown on the side of the road by junta soldiers.
The number of reported acts of domestic and sexual violence is also rapidly increasing. On September 13, two girls aged 16 and 13years old were raped by their father. Soon afterwards, the eldest daughter committed suicide. Since the coup, suicide in Burma/ Myanmar has risen. Women in particular are suffering mental health problems linked to the violence, the economic crisis and dire general health situation. On August 29, a 24-year old women jumped from the Nawaday bridge along with her 3-yearold daughter. From July 16 to September 15, the news[MvZ2] has reported 28 people taking their life in 25 townships.
Poverty has doubled since March 2020 with approximately 40 percent of the population[MvZ3] – 22 million people – living below the poverty line; a decade of progress on poverty reduction undone. Women have been disproportionately impacted and have no opportunities to earn an income. Many women who have lost their jobs have been forced to turn to sex work. This has forced women to take significant risks in order to feed themselves and their families. The risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking is very real for women and girls. Sex work is criminalized in Burma/ Myanmar and women working in the industry experience physical and sexual violence, rape and extortion from the military, police, gangs, and clients.