Stop sexual violence against children

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The increase in the number of child rape cases in Myanmar is threatening the morality and culture of Myanmar society.
The number of child sexual abuse cases has spiralled upward year by year, with nearly 2,000 cases in the past two years.
There were 1,405 rapes committed across Myanmar in 2017, including 508 adult women victims and 897 child victims.
In 2016, 1,100 sexual assault cases were recorded, 429 against adult victims and 671 against children. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of rape cases rose by 305.
This issue has been brought up before the parliament, with a lawmaker demanding harsher sentences for child rape cases.
This lawmaker urged the Union Government at the Pyithu Hluttaw to draft a special bill which can impose the death sentence for child rape cases in order to deter child sexual abuse. The issue of giving heavy penalties for child sex abuse should be brought to the Hluttaw.
Under article 376 of the penal code, punishment for rape ranges from a 10 year jail sentence to a life sentence, plus a fine, while the maximum sentence for child rape is 20 years.
To address the sexual violence against children issue, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is redrafting the 1993 child law.
Despite the collective efforts of CSOs, lawmakers and ministries concerned since 2014, a bill has not yet been submitted to the Hluttaw.
The Amyotha Hluttaw accepted the motion to discuss the issue at the next parliament meeting.
In order to deter the child rape issue, we have to collaborate and cooperate among many partners. In effect, preventing and responding to sexual violence against children should be everyone’s concern.
Public education also plays a crucial role to fight the sexual abuse of children and also public awareness, information and educational campaigns.
Much more needs to be done to prevent sexual abuse. Girls and boys must be encouraged to report abuse, and perpetrators must be punished seriously.
Most importantly, it should be stressed that a parent or guardian’s first responsibility is to their child — to protect him or her and to ensure that there is no breach of privacy or confidentiality.
Every child deserves a future because they are our legacy. Because children are our future, they deserve every opportunity to live full and healthy lives. It’s time to stop sexual violence against our most precious resource.

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