Life on Hold: Experiences of women displaced by conflict in Kachin State, Myanmar

Report
from Trócaire, Oxfam
Published on 09 Jun 2017 View Original

Voices of women in conflict in Myanmar

Posted by Niamh O'Byrne

Since the conflict reignited in 2011 in Kachin State, Myanmar, over 100,000 internally people remain living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. To date, efforts at brokering peace have not resulted in a cessation of armed conflict.

Wider awareness and a clear understanding of the experiences, needs and interests of women who have been internally displaced, is crucial to advocate for and create a gender-transformative peace process.

Life on Hold

Trócaire and Oxfam have commissioned a new report which aims to bring together the voices and memories of women who have been internally displaced by this conflict, as well as their hopes and priorities for peace in Kachin State. Women from 12 different camps in both government-controlled areas and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO)-controlled/non-government controlled areas share their feelings and needs.

The findings in this report feature testimonies of loss of family members, children, husbands, homes, and of everything the women owned before the conflict disrupted their lives. Violence, particularly physical and sexual violence against women, is heavily present in their past and current lives.

In most families, during the period of being displaced from their villages, women bore the major responsibility for taking care of family members, and often said they had been overwhelmed by the situation.

Most women had either directly experienced physical violence, sexual violence or forced labour, or witnessed the instances of the same against a close relative, extended family member, neighbour, or villager. The women also said there was “no justice” for women victims of violence.

Many stories of the women centre on the loss of their land, property and various belongings.Many women reported giving birth while they were hiding in the jungle without any medical support or midwifery services, as well as the illness and death of their children.

The report also assesses the exclusion women experience from receiving relevant information related to conflict and peace — and hence, their exclusion from negotiation and decision-making processes. The testimonies also explore women’s deep desire for involvement in peace building.

This research report was commissioned by Trócaire and Oxfam as part of the Durable Peace Programme funded by the European Union.