According to Mu Angela, the Joint Secretary (2) of the Kayan Women’s Organization (KyWO), the incidence of physical and psychological domestic violence has significantly increased in villages and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps across various townships in Karenni State.
Mu Angela said, “There have been numerous instances of domestic violence, including physical abuse and emotional mistreatment. Domestic violence is prevalent in both villages and IDP camps. It is observable however, victims themselves rarely come forward to report the situation.”
Mu Angela highlighted that a majority of the victims affected by domestic violence are women. Unfortunately, these women face significant barriers in reporting such cases due to concerns like fear of shame, intimidation, lack of security, and inadequate support. As a result, no complaints have been lodged with women’s organizations in 2023.
“The women in the IDP camp are concerned that reporting their cases of domestic violence, might bring negative attention to the camp’s name and reputation. Due to this worry, they choose not to file complaints with any organization,” said Mu Angela.
Mu Angela attributed the increase in domestic violence to various factors, including prolonged displacement caused by the war, homelessness, food shortages, limited employment opportunities, escalating commodity prices, and drug abuse.
Women’s organizations play a crucial role in providing knowledge and support related to various forms of violence experienced by women in IDP camps. They offer valuable information on topics such as physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, socio-economic violence, traditional violence, as well as conducting programs promoting open-mindedness and facilitating mutual discussions.
Daw Nan Moe, a 39-year-old IDP woman, said, “Presently, domestic violence is prevalent across various locations, and it represents a form of violence. It would be highly beneficial to have additional educational programs to address these issues. Ikindly request assistance in finding solutions to the problems faced by IDPs.”
Following the coup d’état, the mechanisms for reporting and addressing domestic violence have deteriorated, making it increasingly challenging to ensure the safety of victims. According to KyWO, in areas controlled by revolutionary forces, traditional methods of addressing domestic violence and sexual violence are predominantly employed as a means of resolution.
“Currently, the judicial system is severely damaged, and in certain areas, we have made attempts to establish our own makeshift judicial processes. However the delivery of justice remains inadequate. We continue to make efforts in this regard. Consequently, when women file complaints, if the decision follows customary practices, the most severe outcome is usually a fine and compensation. Additionally, men from outside the village are prohibited from entering, while cases involving individuals from the same village often conclude with compensation,” Mu Angela said.
Particularly in IDP camps, domestic violence is perceived as a significant social issue. Unfortunately, women are often discouraged from seeking justice as they may face the warning that engaging in fights or conflicts with their spouses, could result in their expulsion from the camp. This further limits their ability to report instances of domestic violence and seek appropriate assistance.
In 2023, the Kayan Women’s Organization (KyWO) received reports of only one case of sexual violence. However, it is believed that many more cases of sexual violence exist but remain unreported.
According to the Kayan Women’s Association, they have assisted in resolving 21 cases of violence from March 2022 to March 2023.