When Women Become the War Zone: the Use of Sexual Violence in Myanmar’s Military Operations

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Author: Sophie Ryan1
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This article draws together existing data and research on the organisation and structure of the Myanmar military (‘Tatmadaw’) and its use of sexual violence in military operations. It argues that from this data, a pattern emerges of rape-permissive military doctrines being employed by the same type of Tatmadaw units across multiple military operations, over many decades and sites. Unpacking each aspect of this posited pattern reveals an endemic rape culture within the Myanmar military that seems to be repeatedly utilised for strategic purposes in counter-insurgency operations. Investigating the potential origins of this rape-permissive culture, the article argues that Tatmadaw recruiting, training and deployment processes cultivate sexual violence as a permissible form of violence that is then tolerated by the Tatmadaw high command, most likely due to its efficacy in achieving its military strategies.

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