Recently, Christian workers visited Taw*, a 15-year-old Chin girl who was raped by local officials in Tonjang Village on April 11. Taw was sexually assaulted by lance corporals Phyo Ko Ko and Phyo Paing near a coffee plantation, according to a report by Chinland Guardian. Taw was offered 3,000,000 kyats ($2,600) by the policemen in an attempt to settle the case, but she and her family refused, bringing the case to the authorities on April 20 in hopes of justice being served despite the prevalence of impunity in such cases.
The policemen who raped Taw are currently in Tonjang Prison awaiting interrogation. In the meantime, Taw was requested to appear to the local court to give her testimony.
“She struggled. She was ashamed of what had happened and found it extremely difficult to recount how she was treated. She only found courage to tell the authorities what happened after her mother comforted her and encouraged her to speak,” says a local source. “She is still in shock. She can’t remember clearly or think properly. She says her abdomen pains her from time to time.”
Taw and her family are still healing from the pain, both physical and emotional. “She is embarrassed to go back to school,” says an Open Doors contact. “She wishes to go to a different town, somewhere where nobody knows her, to pursue her studies.”
Rape has been used as a scare tactic and oppressive measure against the Chin people by the Burmese military for decades. In its 2012 report, Threats to Our Existence, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said:
“Like torture, rape and sexual violence are also enumerated prohibited acts under the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Physicians for Human Rights report ‘Life Under the Junta’ found that 2.8% of households surveyed reported members of their family being raped over the previous year. The report noted that more than 90% of all families reporting family members being raped believed the military targeted their families because of their Chin ethnicity (47%) or that they wanted to kill (18%) or persecute (29%) them…. In terms of Chin identity, the intersection between Chin ethnicity and Christian religion makes it very difficult to distinguish on which basis Chin people are targeted for persecution; in effect, they are targeted on the dual basis of their ethnicity and religion.”
*Taw’s real name is protected for security concerns
Father, our hearts ache for Taw* and others in her circumstances. We pray for Your arms of mercy and comfort to surround her, and for Your healing touch to mend both the pain she sustains and the shame that overwhelms her. We pray for strength and wisdom as her case is brought before the courts, and that lasting change will be accomplished through her courageous stand. We pray for the Chin people in Myanmar, that you would grant them courage to stand strong in their faith, strength to endure the persecution they experience, and wisdom to know when to speak up and when to remain silent. In the name of Jesus who, “for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Amen.