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Rape tops list of serious crimes in Rangoon

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

Rape was the most commonly committed serious crime in Rangoon Division in the first half of this year, according to statistics released by the regional police force on Monday.

Speaking at a meeting with township and ward administrators and other municipal officials, representatives of the Rangoon Division Police Department disclosed that 96 rape cases had been reported by the end of June, followed close behind by 93 murders.

A total of 224 felonies, including one armed robbery, have been committed in Rangoon Division so far this year, police said. The number of petty crimes, including theft and causing physical injury, was set at 7, 253.

Police also said that that they carried out 1,985 “pre-emptive” actions actions to prevent crimes such as prostitution, narcotics trafficking, gambling and illegal possession of weapons.

The meeting on Monday was held to give a briefing on ongoing community-based policing pilot programmes in four townships.

Rape and other violent crimes targeting women will likely be high on the agenda later this week when Burma’s record on protecting the rights of women comes under scrutiny in Geneva, where the country’s compliance with the mandates of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) will be under evaluation for the first time since 2008.

The evaluation, set to begin on 7 July, will also be the first since Burma began its transition to civilian rule under the new National League for Democracy government that assumed power earlier this year.

In a shadow report prepared for the 64th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) — the only grassroots group to participate in the last evaluation — noted that rape prevention was not a high priority of the previous government, led by former general Thein Sein.

“In an indication of the government‘s failure to prioritize women‘s safety, U Thein Sein, in his last weeks in office granted amnesty and released 1,726 convicted rapists in January 2016 which led to an increase in rapes,” the report said.