DVB Multimedia Group

Ministry proposes death penalty for perpetrators of ‘severe sexual violence’

Recording testimony from a Yangon woman who was raped. (Photo: WLB)

Burma’s Ministry of Social Welfare has tabled a draft bill titled “Prohibition of Violence Against Women”, which stipulates stringent penalties for culprits, including the death penalty in cases of extreme violence.

Speaking to DVB, Naw Thawah, the director of the Women’s Development Department under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said, “In cases of rape involving children or disabled persons, an offender will be sentenced to between 20 years and life. And in cases where severe sexual violence has taken place, perpetrators will be sentenced to death.”

The draft bill has this week been sent to the Office of the Attorney General for ratification, before it is in turn passed on to the Union parliament for deliberation.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, Resettlement acknowledged that it had drafted the bill in collusion with UN agencies and civil society organisations.

The proposal would appear to indicate an about-face by the government in the wake of criticisms leveled last month after the Ministry of Home Affairs published a five-page document in which it appeared to mitigate the role of rapists, instead apportioning a share of the blame on women who consume alcohol, lax family values, and the absence of religious instruction.