A few years ago I was completely oblivious to issues surround mass rape in conflict and post conflict zones until a film, The Flowers of War, was recommended to me. The film which is a fictionalised account of the Rape of Nanking sparked my interest in the conflict to the point that I decided to make it the subject of my dissertation. While researching however, I became aware that this was an issue that was much more widespread both geographically and historically than 1930s China. In fact, you’d be hard put to find a conflict where mass rape has not played a role. This realisation lead me to change the direction of my dissertation to the wider motivations of such attacks against women and moreover I became increasingly passionate about the subject.
Today, while going through my morning routine of a coffee and a browse through Facebook, my attention was drawn to an article shared by UN Action discussing sexual violence including mass rape against the Rohingya women of Myanmar by members of the Myanmar security forces.
I will admit, I have been ignorant to the persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The Rohingya people, being Muslim, are considers a security threat in the majority Buddhist Myanmar to the point of being denied basic rights such as education, citizenship, free movement and the right to vote. I had previously believed that under Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar was becoming increasingly progressive however it would appear from the small amount of research I have done thus far, that she is in fact legitimizing or at the very least, turning a blind eye to the persecution of the Rohingya people. This is an aspect I would very much like to research further.
The descriptions of mass rape described in the article, which I shall link below, strike very similar to previous cases which I have studied whether it be from Bosnia, Rwanda or Nanking. This similarity of the circumstances and methods of the rapes themselves is what I find most disturbing about the subject. We are so blind to the issue that we are allowing the exact same crime to happen again and again all over the world. In an increasingly connected world there is now no excuse to be ignorant of these issues and I believe that rape, as uncomfortable as the subject may be, must be discussed with greater frequency and intensity if, as citizens of the world, we want to end this horrific abuse of human rights.