Time to take action to prevent violence against women

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Violence against women and girls amounts to violence against all of humankind and should have no place in Myanmar or elsewhere in the world.
Myanmar’s cultural and social customs, which are based on Buddhism, openly reject all acts of violence against women and girls.
However, weakness in viewing domestic abuse as a human rights violation and lack of laws that can protect women and girls from such abuse is the dark side of our commitment to addressing the causes of violence and promoting women’s empowerment.
Women make up more than half of the total population of Myanmar. If we can guarantee the rights of every woman and girl to live a free and safe life, we can say that we are protecting the majority of the country’s people from violence.
Myanmar ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and submitted national reports to the CEDAW committee. The committee sent back its report with 56 suggestions, which include enacting a law protecting women and girls from violence and abuse and reviewing laws which discriminate against women.
Following the suggestions, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement has drafted the prevention of violence against women bill. The bill is different from other laws because it is a social legislation and it would be effective only when people practice it.
When it comes to the bill, we should not neglect Myanmar’s traditional customs. We are responsible towards and have a duty to support and protect women and girls.
We are confident that the law would adequately protect our women and girls as it has prescribed systematic punishment for those who commit violence against women.
MPs from different political parties must also work together on the issue so that there are no shortcomings in the bill. They must also ensure that there is no risk of the new bill being undermined before it has even been passed.
MPs also have a duty to ensure that the new bill would not lead to the disintegration of a family, but end violence against women and girls.
But, to achieve that goal requires a firm commitment not only at the institutional level, but also needs a broad involvement of INGOs and men.
We must defend the right of all women and girls to live a free and safe life. Women are the pillar of just, open, developed, and democratic societies, and nothing should deprive them of their freedom or impinge on their safety.
Now is the time for action, not words.

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